Understanding Delta Variant components

Personal background: By February 2021 I have been double-vaccinated with Moderna mRNA to counter/protect from SARS-CoV-2 (aka Coronavirus aka COVID-19).

NOTE: Paul’s PSA is this: Get double-vaccinated (preferably Moderna or Pfizer) as soon as possible.

20210715 – Now the question is – is it more contagious or more severe? What’s the difference?  How do you measure?  What’s really important?  Note: There was an article in the NYT on July 15th, 2021 about this.  I need to research further.  Keep in mind that my primary go-to for any/all guidance is the CDC.  It’s too easy to get caught up with various MD’s giving opinions.

20210709 – Additional detail and research findings:  Looks like “It finds that the variant grows more rapidly inside people’s respiratory tracts and to much higher levels, researchers at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported.”

Q: What does the Delta variant of COVID-19, responsible for COVID crisis in India, primarily mean?

A: They are collections of random mutations that cause the virus to act differently than original coronavirus.  They can be more contagious or resistant to treatment, which is the primary concern.

Q: What does it mean that the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) is more contagious?

A: The Delta variant was sourced in India and traveled to UK (becoming a dominant strain).  Prior to Delta, the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) was dominant strain in UK because of increased transmissibility from original coronavirus.  In other words, Delta is very transmissible.  There is also a “Delta Plus” variant (B.1.617.2.1) which has an additional mutation (K417N) present in Delta.  In the USA, the Delta variant is now overtaking disease from Alpha variant in terms of percentages.

Q: How does Delta variant show up in hospital admittance rates?

A: The Delta variant is effectively doubling hospitalizations over Alpha variant, specifically with people that had not been vaccinated prior.

Q: Does prior vaccination (ideally mRNA) protect against Delta variant?

A: The key is partial vs full vaccination.  Partially vaccinated people are relatively more susceptible to Delta than Alpha infection.  The primary objective should be to become fully vaccinated as soon as possible.  Two does of vaccine were 88% effective against Delta vs 33% effective with one dose.

Q: How does Delta variant affect children?

A: The primary issue, focusing on UK, is that children under 12 have not been cleared for vaccination yet.  If this age issue is not addressed in the USA, we will probably see an increase in infections in children and adults.

Q: How are the Delta symptoms different from other strains?

A: Based on UK info, most common symptom is headache.  Maybe mistaken for common cold, sore throat, runny nose, fever.  But, it’s rare to develop a fever with a cold.  Delta cough and loss of smell symptoms are different than prior variants.

Q: What about the monoclonal antibody (emergency) treatments to counter SARS-CoV-2, as it relates to Delta variant?

A: Research shows these monoclonal antibody treatments are less efficient at the blocking the Delta variant.

Q: In the USA, if you’re double-vaccinated, do you need to wear a mask?

A: The CDC (as of XXX) are stating you don’t have to wear a mask.

Q: What’s the update on booster shots?

A: Currently research is being done to see if a booster is needed – durability, possibly integrating other things re: variants, etc.  Right now, the mRNA is doing well against Delta variant, so there has not been an immediate need for a booster.  Not sure when it will be needed, and to what degree.

A: Moderna says they are developing a booster candidate: a 50-50 mix of its currently authorized COVID-19 vaccine and another messenger RNA vaccine it has developed.

Q: What does Moderna have to say about variants?

A: Completed studies find the vaccine has a neutralizing effect against all COVID-19 variants, including: beta, delta, eta, and kappa variants.  While still highly effective against the Delta variant, the study showed the vaccine was less effective against it and certain other variants than against the original strain of the virus.  The antibody response against the Delta variant was about two times weaker than against the ancestral strain of the virus.

Q: What is long-haul symptoms mean?

A: Symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, brain fog – that lasts for months beyond their infection.  This has occurred with people who had mild to moderate infections, and in some cases with asymptomatic infection.  The issue is that, even though you may not be hospitalized, there is a risk for long-haul symptoms.  This is also occurring in younger people.

Reference these articles:

What to know about the Delta Variant of COVID-19

Dr. Fauci on Delta variant, booster shots and masks for the vaccinated

Moderna says studies show its vaccine is effective against the Delta variant

U.S. Surgeon General on Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy and COVID long haulers

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