Dr. Anthony Fauci
warned this week that a far more serious and transmissible strain of the virus is rapidly spreading across the United States
and will become the dominant strain in a matter of weeks, urging all remaining Americans who are unvaccinated against COVID-19
and eligible to get the shots.
“It’s the unvaccinated people
that we’re concerned about,” the White House
’s chief medical adviser said in an interview
’s “Today” show on Wednesday. “They have to start paying attention now because if they’re unvaccinated, they’re at risk.”
According to Fauci, the delta variant
of the coronavirus
, which was discovered in India
and contributed to an outbreak that killed hundreds of thousands of people, now accounts for about 20% of newly diagnosed coronavirus cases in the United States.
This variant has been shown to be more transmissible than the alpha strain, also known as B.1.1.7, which has recently become prevalent in the United States, and it has also been linked to increased disease severity, such as hospital
risk, when compared to the alpha variant.
If the delta variant is allowed to spread through unvaccinated people, there is a chance that it will mutate and form a new variant, according to Fauci.
“Viruses don’t mutate unless they replicate,” he says, adding that “if you give them the opportunity to replicate by allowing them to [spread] from person to person, you’re giving them a perfect opportunity to mutate even more and possibly evade the vaccine.”
The good news
is that vaccines
available in the United States are highly effective against the delta variant, according to health
“They are nearly 100% effective against severe disease and death
,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky
, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, at a White House briefing on Tuesday. “Nearly every death due to COVID-19 is particularly tragic, because nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19 is at this point entirely preventable,” she added.
During the same briefing, Fauci emphasized the delta variant's ability to spread exponentially by displaying data from the United Kingdom
that shows the variant overtaking all other variants in a matter of weeks, claiming that the variant now accounts for more than 95% of cases in the United Kingdom.
In the United States, “we appear to be following the pattern with the delta variant, with a doubling time of about two weeks,” he said, while displaying a bar graph showing the country’s delta variant cases increasing from around 1.2% in early May to 20.6% in mid-June.
“The delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the United States to our efforts to eliminate COVID-19,” he said, adding, “We have the tools, so let’s use them and crush the outbreak.”