Anna Mendez, LPN, gives Vern Henderson a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic established by Healthcare Network in Immokalee, Florida on May 20, 2021.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

The White House is sending Covid-19 response teams in the United States to focus on combating the highly contagious Delta variant, the Biden government announced on Thursday.

The teams, made up of officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies, will work with communities at higher risk for outbreaks and focus on increasing the rate of Covid-19 vaccinations, the Covid said – White House Tsar Jeff Zients holds a White House press conference on the pandemic.

The teams will also step up testing to expand detection of the virus, facilitate contact tracing and provide therapeutics to treat those infected, he said, adding the government is ready to provide additional staff.

There are 1,000 counties in the US with vaccination coverage less than 30%, said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky at the meeting. These counties, especially in the south and the Midwest, are the most susceptible to the variant, she said.

“To be clear, the federal government is ready to meet the moment and work with our government partners to respond to the Delta variant,” Zients said.

“As we continue to work with communities across the country to get more gunshots, we will also work with governors and state and local health officials to identify and address local needs in locations with emergency outbreaks,” he added.

Delta, which was first identified in India but now in at least 96 countries, is expected to become the predominant variant of the disease in the United States. The prevalence of the delta is estimated to be about 60% higher transmissible than the alpha variant first found in the UK, doubling about every two weeks in the US, according to the CDC.

Health officials say there have been reports that the Delta variant also causes more severe symptoms, but that more research is needed to confirm these conclusions. However, there is evidence that the Delta strain may cause different symptoms than other variants.

It accounts for 26% of Covid cases in the US, estimates the CDC. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s senior medical advisor, has described the variant as the “greatest threat” to the nation’s attempt to eradicate Covid-19.

The WHO has said that the variant is the fastest and strongest strain of coronavirus to date and will “pick up” the most vulnerable people, especially in places with low Covid vaccination rates. It recently urged everyone, including those vaccinated, to continue wearing masks while the variant spreads.

In some regions of the country, almost every second sequence is the delta variant, Walensky said on Thursday. As the variant spreads, officials expect transmission to increase unless states can vaccinate more people, she added.

According to the CDC, more than 181 million Americans, or 54.6% of the US population, had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine as of Thursday. According to the CDC, more than 155 million Americans are fully vaccinated.

“The Delta variant is expected to be the second most common variant in the United States, and I expect it will dwarf the Alpha variant in the coming weeks,” she said, urging those with symptoms to stop To have Covid tested.

This is a developing story. Please check again for updates.