PHOTO: Everyday Health

The genetic code of viruses, especially SARS-CoV-2, is expected by experts to mutate into different strains by shifts to their appearance or how they affect the host. Several COVID-19 variants have been pointed out as the blame for causing rapid outbreaks around the globe, forcing countries to enforce strict lockdowns to curb the spread.

One of the major concerns today despite the ongoing roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines is the Delta (B.1.617.2.) variant first specified in India last December 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) considered the strain as “the fastest and fittest.” 

Symptoms of the Delta variant remain the same as other strains of COVID-19.

Research from Scotland found that the Delta version has doubled the risks of hospitalization compared to the Alpha variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, thus threatening the general public further as Delta could be resistant to the supposed protection given by only the first dose of Coronavirus vaccines.

States in the US that have lower vaccination rates experience a surge in cases, as 99.5% of coronavirus deaths since January were from unvaccinated people, as per preliminary data from the CDC.

An internal document unpublished yet by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labeled the Delta variant to be as contagious as chickenpox, warning that it could also cause severe disease.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, Ph.D., said that vaccinated people could still spread the virus through Delta "breakthrough cases" because they carry great amounts of viruses in their nose and throat — leading to CDC updating its mask guidelines.

Breakthrough cases pertain to people receiving a positive COVID-19 result despite having their final vaccine dose 14 days before.

According to UK research, both the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer-BioNTech are effective against the strain. Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech on the other hand suggest having three doses for added protection.