CDC director warns about growing cases of Delta variant

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 8:33 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - U.S. health officials are scrambling to get more Americans vaccinated in hopes of keeping a new variant from becoming the dominant strain.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the Delta strain accounts for about 6% of cases in the United States that have been sequenced, but that number is likely higher.

Chasity Maxie spoke to the head of the CDC about why this particular variant is so dangerous.

The Delta variant, which was first identified in India, is rapidly becoming the dominant strain in the UK.

Health experts in the U.S. said they don’t want that to happen here, but they said that could be our fate, if more people don’t roll up their sleeves.

In Alabama, about 1.7 million people, or 36% of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

But only 29% are fully vaccinated.

CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said that’s cause for alarm.

“Where there are low rates of vaccination is where the virus will reemerge. And so, in Birmingham, in Jefferson County where you have these low rates of vaccination is where you are at risk,” Dr. Walensky explained.

Dr. Walensky said the CDC is happy to see cases of COVID and death rates coming down throughout the country.

But she said the Delta variant is circulating in the U.S. and increasing in southern states.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said at least one case of the variant has been identified in the state, so far.

“We’re concerned because it looks like it is more transmissible than some of the other variants that we’ve seen,” Dr. Walensky said.

She said our current vaccines offer a good amount of protection against the variants, including the Delta strain, but there is potential for that to change.

She said with more vaccinations, there will be less virus, less disease and fewer variants.

“The protection rates are around 88%. So, still they’re working quite well, but what I would say is we worry, if there’s circulating virus, that these variants could potentially mutate again and get us out of the potential protection of these vaccines, which is why we want to decrease the amount of virus by getting people vaccinated,” Dr. Walensky said.

When asked if the CDC acted too quickly in rolling back some of the COVID guidelines, Dr. Walensky said she wanted to be very clear that the CDC’s recommendations are for those who are fully vaccinated.

She said if you have not received your COVID shots, you’ll still want to continue social distancing and wearing your mask.

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