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Health leaders keep a close eye on Delta Plus COVID variant

Delta Plus variant research COVID
Posted at 2:16 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 15:36:58-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Health experts in Tampa Bay and across the world are closely watching another COVID-19 variant.

Delta Plus is starting to spread across parts of the globe. Epidemiologists have detected dozens of cases of the Delta Plus variant in the UK, India, South Korea and the United States.

While scientists are still studying the variant, some experts believe it might be even more transmissible than the Delta variant, and they worry the more this virus mutates, the less effective our immune system will be at fighting it off.

“The worry is the longer we let this thing continue to transmit in our population, the more likely it is that we’ll eventually find a mutation that will decrease the vaccine efficacy. So far, we’ve been lucky and most of these mutations haven’t affected the immune response we make against the virus but more transmission means more cases and none of our vaccines are 100%,” Dr. Michael Teng of USF Health explained.

Although scientists are closely watching the new Delta Plus variant, the original Delta variant is currently the biggest concern, accounting for 93% of all new COVID cases in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The Delta Plus variant is also impacting people who are vaccinated but doctors still believe if you do get sick, the symptoms will be less severe if you’ve had the COVID shot.

Health experts say the COVID virus will continue to mutate leading to these new variants, but some strains are more infectious than others.

“What the virus is getting selected for is to become ever more infectious because that’s what it wants to do. It wants to jump from person to person and infect more people,” explained Dr. Thomas Unnasch of USF’s College of Public Health.

Epidemiologists say vaccination is key because people who are vaccinated are less likely to spread these COVID variants.