Delta Coronavirus Variant Likely More Widespread in the U.S. than Current Estimates
Cases of the delta variant of the Chinese coronavirus, which is said to be more transmissible, are likely far more widespread than current estimates show, according to Biden administration officials.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed the delta variant, B.1.617.2, made up the majority of coronavirus cases, 51.7 percent, in the United States from June 20 to July 3. That reflects a significant jump, as the delta variant made up 30.4 percent of the cases in mid-June.
However, Biden administration officials have reason to believe the variant is far more widespread, attributing that, in part, to the lag in reporting samples, as it can take “weeks to complete.”
According to Politico:
The CDC’s data on where the variant is spreading and at what rate relies on reports from state and private labs that sequence samples that test positive for Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus]. But the process often relies on testing batches of samples that can take weeks to complete. That delays the speed with which Delta infections are reported, according to the Biden health officials and multiple state public health officials.
The lack of real-time data has left local health officials unprepared as hospitalizations have surged in parts of the Midwest and Southwest. It also raises questions about how the officials can control the spread as the pace of vaccination slows.
Mike Cima, an epidemiology officer with Arkansas’ public health department, said it can take from five days to up to two weeks to get CDC data back, adding that his state works with the agency and the University of Minnesota to sequence Covid-19 samples.
“Delta … is the dominant variant in the state,” Cima said. “And it is fair to say there will likely be some increase in death. It is far more infectious than the original strain that hit back in 2020.”
“It is far more infectious than the Alpha variant. It is really important people understand this is a different situation we’re in. If you are unvaccinated … there is [a] very good chance if you are going to become sick [sic],” he warned.“It is everywhere now,” a Biden administration official said of the delta variant, according to Politico. “The risk really is in the unvaccinated community. We’re starting to see more and more people get sick and need medical attention.”
Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, is expected to address the rising cases of the variant on Thursday as the White House continues to push its vaccination efforts.
This week, President Joe Biden floated going “community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and often times door by door — literally knocking on doors to get help to the remaining people” get vaccinated.
Watch:The White House / Facebook
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra doubled down on that sentiment Thursday, contending it is “absolutely the government’s business” to know who has been vaccinated and who has not.
“It is taxpayers’ business, if we have to continue to spend money to try to keep people from contracting Covid and helping reopen the economy,” he told CNN, adding that “knocking on a door has never been against the law.”