COVID-19 Delta variant

Dr. Eriko Masuda, infectious disease specialist, answers your top questions about the Delta variant of COVID-19. While there is cause for some concern, there is good news: vaccinations have shown to prevent severe illness and hospitalization.

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Dr. Eriko Masuda

What you need to know about the Delta variant of COVID-19

A new strain of the COVID-19 virus is on track to become the most prevalent (and dangerous). What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones? Do the current COVID-19 vaccines protect against the Delta strain? We talk with Dr. Eriko Masuda, infectious disease specialist at MLKCH.

Why is the Delta variant of COVID-19 different from other strains of the COVID-19 virus?

Viruses are always mutating to try to get around the body’s defenses. This particular mutation has produced a virus that is far more contagious and that may be more resistant to some treatments, such as monoclonal antibody treatments. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said that the Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19. The good news? Dr. Fauci said that the vaccines authorized in the United States work against the variant. “We have the tools,” he said. “So let’s use them, and crush the outbreak.”

How widespread is the Delta variant in California?

As of July 7th, 2021 there were 1,001 cases of the Delta variant in California. Those might seem like low numbers, but if this variant spreads more quickly than others, then the numbers could go up rapidly. The CDC and LA County health officials predict that there will be a significant increase in Delta cases in the weeks ahead among those who are not yet vaccinated.

Are the current COVID-19 vaccines effective in protecting against the Delta variant?

So far the research shows that the Pfizer vaccine is 94% effective at preventing hospitalization after the first dose and 95% after two doses. We don’t have research yet on Moderna, but as that vaccine functions in much the same way as the Pfizer vaccine, we anticipate similar high rates of effectiveness. So in short: these two leading vaccines are a pretty sure way of protecting yourself from even dangerous strains of COVID-19 like the Delta strain.

Additional resources: SARS-CoV-2 Variant Classifications and Definitions The world is worried about the Delta virus variant. Studies show vaccines are effective against it. The Delta Variant: What Scientists Know