Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about the Delta variant, its symptoms, characteristics and other things to watch for:
WHAT WE KNOW
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic. MORE ABOUT THE VARIANTS
Viruses constantly change and become more diverse. Scientists monitor these changes, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus. By carefully studying viruses, scientists can learn how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and how sick people will get from it.
If you think about a virus like a tree growing and branching out; each branch on the tree is slightly different than the others. By comparing the branches, scientists can label them according to the differences. These small differences, or variants, have been studied and identified since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some variations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines. Those variants must be monitored more carefully.
VARIANTS IN THE UNITED STATES
The CDC is monitoring multiple variants; currently there are four notable variants in the United States:
B.1.617.2 (Delta): This variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021. It was initially identified in India in December 2020.
B.1.1.7 (Alpha): This variant was first detected in the United States in December 2020. It was initially detected in the United Kingdom.
B.1.351 (Beta): This variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January 2021. It was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020.
P.1 (Gamma): This variant was first detected in the United States in January 2021. P.1 was initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January.
These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.
So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants.
WATCH FOR SYMPTOMS
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. WHEN TO SEEK EMERGENCY MEDICAL ATTENTION
People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
GUIDANCE FOR PEOPLE FULLY VACCINATED
To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. WHEN YOU’VE BEEN FULLY VACCINATED
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM COVID-19
COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States and variants are circulating. Take steps to protect yourself from the virus. WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SICK
Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.