By Reena Bhardwaj
Washington [US], July 1 (ANI): The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is the greatest threat to the United States' attempt to eradicate COVID-19, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday.
During a broadcast interview, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he's "quite concerned" about the Delta variant in the US.
Dr Fauci told US media that the delta variant can spread "much more efficiently" and "cause more severe disease".
"The Delta variant has the capability of spreading much more efficiently from person to person. It also can cause more severe disease. So there are two things about it that are troublesome," said the top US COVID-19 expert.
Fauci further said that the good news is that COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be very effective against the strain and urged those who have yet to be vaccinated to do so. He said, "The good news about this is that the vaccines that are used in this country do very well against the Delta variant."
He also stressed that "people who are unvaccinated are at significant risk of a virus that spreads so efficiently," and urged people to protect themselves.
"We are asking people, almost pleading with people, if you are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated," he said.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, has also been identified in at least 85 countries. It now accounts for one in five infections in the US. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 'variant of concern' - B.1.617.2 - accounts for more than one-fourth of the total active COVID-19 cases in the country and has reached nearly every state.
The US has administered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to over 53 per cent of its population and aims to achieve herd immunity through vaccination as soon as possible.
On Wednesday White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the United States is on track to have 70 per cent vaccinated in the US "in a couple of weeks," Psaki's comments come as the White House acknowledged it's likely to fall short of its goal of administering at least one dose of vaccine to 70 per cent of American adults by July 4. More than 70 per cent of Americans 30 and older, however, have received at least one dose.
Psaki stressed that the Delta variant is "is not discriminating by age". Vaccines approved in the US are effective for the Delta variant but "if you're not vaccinated you're not safe or protected".
"We know that our vaccines that have been approved in the United States are effective in protecting Americans from the Delta variant. It's important for people to understand that. So if you have been vaccinated, the message we're conveying is: You're safe," Psaki told reporters.
The Pfizer-BioNTech shot showed to be 88 per cent effective against symptomatic disease and 96 percent effective against hospitalization.
Trends clearly underscore that the Delta Variant is surging almost 50 per cent of all COVID19. As a result, the question of mask-wearing has come back. Los Angeles County health officials recommend that even fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks indoors in public as a precaution due to the rise of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus.
Angeles County now "strongly recommends" everyone, including those fully vaccinated, to wear masks indoors to curb the variant, especially when "you don't know everyone's vaccination status" the county said in its statement.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released similar recommendations earlier this week, advising everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to continue wearing masks. (ANI)