Medical worker Mantra Nguyen installs a new oxygen mask for a patient in the Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas.
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Delta “greatest threat” to the US
The first thing to note is how quickly the Delta variant spread across the UK
In a relatively short period of time, the strain ousted the alpha variant and became dominant in the country (Delta was responsible for 90% of all infections in mid-June, a government study showed) – and it did so despite the advanced vaccination rate in the UK.
Meanwhile, cases attributed to the Delta Tribe, according to Senior Medical Advisor to the White House Dr. Anthony Fauci, now accounts for about 20% of newly diagnosed cases in the US.
Fauci warned last week that the Delta variant will become the dominant Covid tribe in the country in just a few weeks, citing the UK as a precedent. “It just exploded in the UK. It has gone from a minor variety to now more than 90% of isolates in the UK,” Fauci said on NBC’s TODAY show.
He said the variant had a doubling time of about two weeks. “So you’d expect just the doubling time to be pretty dominant in a few weeks to a month or so, that’s the sobering news,” he added.
Read more: According to Fauci, Delta accounts for 20% of new cases and will be the dominant Covid variant in the US in weeks
Fauci had already warned that Delta appears to be “following the same pattern” as Alpha. “Similar to the UK, the Delta variant is currently the biggest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19,” he said.
In the UK, infections attributed to the Delta have spread rapidly among young people and the elderly who have not yet been vaccinated. Similarly, in the US, there are concerns that the delta could spread rapidly in parts of the south where vaccinations have stalled, NBC News reported on Sunday.
The US is not alone in its concern about the Delta variant. In Australia, Sydney was put on a two-week lockdown over the weekend due to a growing outbreak of strain. The Australian government’s Covid Response Team will meet on Monday to discuss the spread of the virus and the possibility of further restrictions.
New outbreaks of infections, mainly due to the Delta variant, have led the UK government to speed up the final leg of its vaccination program for people aged 18 and over.
It is hoped that increased vaccination will help stop the strain from spreading wildly. An analysis published by Public Health England on June 21 showed that two doses of the Pfizer BioNTech or Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalizations from the Delta variant.
To date, nearly 60% of adults in the UK have received two doses of the vaccine, while in the US 56% of the population over 18 are fully vaccinated. The UK has not yet approved Covid vaccinations for teenagers, unlike the US which does vaccines for those over 12.
Read more: Delta Covid variant has a new mutation called “Delta plus”: You need to know that
Perhaps the US is cautious about the spread of infections in the UK and also wants to speed up their vaccinations. However, it could take more time than the White House would like.
The Biden administration said last Tuesday that it is unlikely to meet its target of 70% of American adults receiving one or more vaccinations by July 4th.
Read more: Covid booster in autumn? As the demand for third shots grows, here’s what you need to know
White House Covid Tsar Jeff Zients said the government has reached its 70 percent target for people age 30 and older and is well on its way to achieving it by July 4th for people age 27 and older. Zients said U.S. officials are working with state and local leaders to reach out to younger people.
“We believe it will take a few more weeks to reach 70% of adults with at least one vaccination, including those aged 18-26,” he said.
– CNBC’s Nate Rattner and Dawn Kopecki contributed to this story.