COVID-19 Updates

On the Verge of Predicted COVID-19 Surge with Delta Variant

Learn about the predictions of the delta variant and how it affects your daily life.
August 18, 2021
Gregory A. Poland, MD & Halena M. Gazelka, MD

Coming up on Mayo Clinic Q&A, We now have about 60 percent of the cases that are Delta variants. And we're seeing a rise in cases. Everyone is eager for a return to life as normal. But as restrictions and mandates are lifted, variants are of increasing concern. So we're starting to see, just as we predicted, a surge, as people took masks off and as restrictions were lifted before we had achieved high rates of immunization.

The current hotspots of Covid-19 are Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Nevada. And in fact, when you look at that, they are accounting for the majority of cases in the U.S. and tend to have the lowest immunization rates. Some are saying that this is almost a new pandemic that we're having with the Delta Variant.


It's still the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but just like we have different strains of influenza, we have different strains of SARS-coV-2. This one is worrisome because the alpha variant or UK variant was about 50 percent more infectious than the original virus, whatever that infectivity was. And now the Delta variant is 50 percent, again, more infectious than the alpha/UK variant.


So I'm very concerned about school districts that are not going to have masks. I'm very concerned about communities where immunization rates are low. This is not a new virus. It's a variant, but it is a variant that's much more transmissible, that is infecting. We've started now to see hospitalizations increasing and mark our words in just a few weeks, we'll start seeing deaths go up.

And those were also some of the areas where there were lesser rates of vaccinations. Transmission from one person to another is occurring from somebody who has gotten infected and is not vaccinated. Is it possible that somebody who got vaccinated could get an asymptomatic infection and spread it? Yes, teeny little chance. If they were elderly, if they were immunocompromised, or had some other condition where they didn't respond well to the vaccine, that would be possible. But the numbers of those kinds of cases that we're seeing are extremely rare.


The CDC has said that vaccinated students should be able to go back maskless, but that kids who have not been vaccinated should likely be wearing masks. What about vaccinating children younger than 12 years old? So right now, there is no indication of approval for immunization of children under the age of 12. Those studies have been done and are ongoing.

We expect that those manufacturers will come forward with that data requesting an emergency use authorization sometime this fall to late fall. So I think we'll start seeing that probably once the school year has already started. FDA will go through by hand every single record in each of those studies that had 40,000 or more participants. They will verify the data. They will redo all the statistical analysis. They will certify the labs that did the testing. And that's just a very laborious job to do.


People also want to know if the covid vaccine can prevent “Long Haulers” syndrome. This is an interesting question because we certainly see in unvaccinated people who develop asymptomatic, even mild covid, can develop symptoms.

In fact, an interesting statistic in a paper that came out, two-thirds of the people that got covid but were not sick enough to go to the doctor, within three months, reported new symptoms that they had not had before. So this is a real phenomenon. We are aware of a few cases, and it's very rare for people who have gotten fully vaccinated, who were healthy, got an asymptomatic infection, and had persistent, at least so far, mild symptoms. And in one case, I know of more severe symptoms. But you're talking about one out of hundreds of millions. So it's extremely rare, but not impossible.


You're even more susceptible against the Delta variant. If you only got one dose of an MRI and a vaccine, you're only about 20, 30 percent protected against Delta. If you get two doses, we're up in the high 80s and 90s in terms of protection.

To learn more about the predicted Covid-19 surge:

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