The Indian ‘Delta’ variant is now the dominant strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed.
According to data updated on Tuesday evening, the variant, also known as B.1.617.2, makes up 51.7 percent of all new infections.
That’s up from the 26.1 percent of cases previously linked to the the variant, meaning its prevalence has nearly doubled in two weeks.
Health experts warn that the prevalence will only increase, and the country will continue to see localized outbreaks, unless Americans get vaccinated.
It comes as the variant continues to ravage the UK, with daily COVID-19 cases hitting the highest level since January with a 25 percent spike in one week.
The prevalence of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant has nearly doubled in two weeks in the U.S., going from 26.1% of new infections at the end of June to 51.7%, currently. Pictured: Prevalence of variants in U.S. including Delta in dark orange (B.1.617.2)
This means the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of coronavirus, overtaking the Alpha ‘Kent’ variant. Some estimates suggest it could make up as many as 70% of new cases (above)
More than 80% of new infections in Midwestern states such as Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, are linked to the Delta variant
In mid-May, the Delta variant accounted for just three percent of all new COVID-19 infections in the country.
However, the strain has since taken hold in parts of the U.S. with low vaccination rates.
‘It’s not just the dominance of the variant but the rate of increase is really breathtaking,’ Dr Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and infectious disease at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) told DailyMail.com.
‘In California, [the variant made up] five percent [of cases] a few months go and now it’s over 35 percent and that’s faster than what we saw with the Alpha variant.
‘It speaks to the power of the Delta variant to come into a community, bite in and not we let go.’
The Delta variant has been labeled as a ‘double mutant’ by India’s Health Ministry because it carries two mutations: L452R and E484Q.
L452R is the same mutation seen with the California homegrown variant and E484Q is similar to the mutation seen in the Brazilian and South African variants.
Both of the mutations occur on key parts of the virus that allows it to enter and infect human cells.
The majority of states seeing a rise in cases associated with the spread of the the Delta variant are states with low vaccination rates in the South, Midwest and Mountain West
New infections in Missouri have risen by 20% from 760 per day to 915 daily over the past 14 days
Arkansas has seen coronavirus cases surge by 52% from an average of 286 cases per day to 435 per day over the last two weeks
This allows the variant to spread more easily than previous strains of the virus, particularly among the unvaccinated population.
In Missouri, the seven-day average of new infections has risen from 760 per day to 915 in the last two weeks, an increase of 20 percent, a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data found.
Meanwhile, the seven-day positivity rate rose to 10.5 percent, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS).
That is the highest figure seen since January 18, but not as high as the record 23.1 percent set in November, state data show.
The surge is mostly due to the southwest corner of the state, where Springfield and Branson – a city famous for its live entertainment – are located.
In Missouri, 44.9 percent of the total population is vaccinated, which is lower than the national of 47.5 percent, according to the CDC.
In Greene County, where Springfield is located, only 33.8 percent of residents are fully vaccinated and the case rate is 51 per 100,000 people, state data reveal.
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the CDC says 73.3 percent of all infections in Missouri are linked to the Delta variant.
Mercy Springfield, one of two hospitals in the town, ran out of ventilators for patients over the Fourth of July weekend as the area saw a 30 percent increase in patients.
‘New day, new record. Spent the night looking for ventilators because we ran out. 47 patients on vents. A lot of those are COVID but not all,’ tweeted Erik Frederick, Chief Administrative Officer at Mercy Springfield.
So far, studies have suggested that the three vaccines being used in the U.S. are effective and are encouraging the remaining 150 million Americans to get vaccinated.
‘Right now we have two Americas: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated America,’ Dr Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NPR.
‘We’re feeling pretty good right now because it’s the summer. But come winter, if we still have a significant percentage of the population that is unvaccinated, we’re going to see this virus surge again.’
Meanwhile, Britain’s daily Covid cases have breached 30,000 for the first time since January when the second wave was still raging – and deaths have more than doubled in a week.
Department of Health figures show there were 32,548 new infections across the UK in the past 24 hours, up by a quarter on last week and the highest number since January 23.
Another 33 Covid deaths were also registered overnight, which was more than twice as many as last Wednesday when there were 14.
Latest figures show there were 386 Covid admissions on July 3, an increase of about 45 per cent on the previous week and double the number in early June. Like cases, hospitalizations now appear to be growing exponentially.