COVID-19 Delta variant continues to spread across AZ and US

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The Delta-variant of the corona-virus continues to spread in Arizona. It’s making for concerns even among those who’ve been vaccinated. What exactly do we know about this variant? We asked Dr. David Engelthaler of T-Gen, which is researching the variant’s genetic sequencing.

Engelthaler said that the Delta variant has become the primary variant of COVID-19 in 2021. He also said that he thinks it’s the most prominent variant in the United States and that it’s on its way in Arizona. It has appeared in just under 50% of the cases over the last couple of weeks.

Engelthaler said that a lot of people are wondering what exactly a new variant means, or is. “Essentially what they are is successful lineages of the virus that have picked up multiple mutations, maybe some of them have helped the virus in some particular way, to become more successful.” Engelthaler said.

He added that in the Delta variant’s case, it has picked up a series of mutations that somehow allow it to infect cells faster, replicate more, and then spread from person to person much more readily. This is what leads to the increased transmission rate of the virus from the variant.

The doctor also said that these mutations in the Delta variant don’t seem to make the virus more harmful, but that it does allow it to transmit faster.

He said that the largest concerned party should be those who aren’t vaccinated because the increased transmissibility puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“This one is like water and it can find the cracks. It will be much more successful at finding the next susceptible person,” he said.

Engelthaler also said that, in areas of the world that have lower immunization rates, there is more chance for the virus to potentially mutate into a new variant. He estimated that the state has about two-thirds immunity due to both the vaccination rate and infection rate of the state.

Dr. David Engelthaler, Director, TGen's Infectious-disease Branch

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