TAMPA, Fla. — The COVID-19 Delta Variant is proving to be extremely transmissible as it dominates cases in Florida among the unvaccinated.
“Three weeks ago it was a great feeling, very few COVID cases, just in the last maybe 10 to 14 days there’s been a considerable uptick in COVID patients admitted,” said Dr. Mark Vila, a Pulmonologist at Largo Medical Center.
He says it’s starting to look like it did last fall.
“Morale has been tough for a while and every hospital probably in the country is short-staffed,” he said.
He describes COVID like a slow-moving train where, after initial treatments, all doctors and nurses can do is hope the patient turns around.
“We get a lot of ECMO patients, these are patients that have failed the ventilator and this is their last hope,” he said.
And that often leads family members to a change of heart regarding vaccines.
“I think they see it in real-time and there’s going to be a change in their mentality because they see their loved one suffering and they’re more likely to say this is not a hoax or something to play with,” he said.
And getting the vaccine is crucial as severe symptoms from the Delta variant are less selective when it comes to a person's age, according to Dr. Vila.
“The patients are getting younger and they’re healthier,” he said. “A year ago it was in 70 to 80 to 90-year-old patients. December was a little bit younger and now we’re seeing people in their 30s and 40s.”
The CDC is now discussing a possible third dose for folks with compromised immune systems. During a presentation Thursday, the CDC said the FDA hasn’t received enough data to support a third dose but is continuing to assess safety studies and expert opinion to determine if it's needed.
“Emerging data suggest that an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose in immunocompromised people may enhance antibody response in some, and increases the proportion who responded,” said Dr. Sara Oliver, with the CDC.
Some doctors on the call Thursday expressed concern over the FDA and CDC not moving fast enough to better protect this portion of the population. Other doctors aren’t sure a 3rd dose will help.
Dr. Vila thinks it will eventually happen but says it’s anyone's guess whether it’ll be every year or every couple of years.
“I don’t think it’s a question of if it’s a matter of when,” he said.
The CDC says right now, someone with a compromised immune system should continue to wear a mask, social distance, and wash hands.