Health

Biden’s former coronavirus adviser says Indian Delta variant is like ‘Covid on steroids’

President Joe Biden‘s former Covid czar is urging Americans to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the Indian ‘Delta’ coronavirus variant that is raging across the UK. 

In an appearance on CNN on Wednesday, Andy Slavitt, who was the White House Senior Adviser for COVID-19 Response, said the mutant strain is more infectious and is more likely to cause severe disease than other variants.

‘This is like COVID on steroids,’ he said.

‘You could be around people for less time and still get exposed. So it’s yet another reason why people should, if they haven’t been vaccinated, should think about getting vaccinated.’   

Slavitt added that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 likely have ‘little to worry about.’ 

The variant led to havoc in the UK, causing infections to spike 50 percent in one week and hospitalizations to rise by 15 percent, and making up more than 90 percent of all cases.

And, although there are signs that the surge in Britain may be slowing, data from the Department of Health and Social Care shows that 9,000 people tested positive on Wednesday, which is the highest figure seen since February.  

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 Andy Slavitt, the former White House Senior Adviser for COVID-19 Response, described the Indian ‘Delta’ coronavirus variant as ‘COVID on steroids’ in an interview on CNN on Wednesday (above)

The mutant strain, known as B.1.617.2, now makes up 10% of all cases in the U.S., up from 6% last week and 2.7% in May

The mutant strain, known as B.1.617.2, now makes up 10% of all cases in the U.S., up from 6% last week and 2.7% in May

The variant, which was first identified in India and is known as B.1.617.2, currently makes up about 10 percent of all COVID-19 infections in America, up from six percent last week and 2.7 percent in May.

India’s Ministry of Health has labeled the variant a ‘double mutant’ because it carries two mutations: L452R and E484Q.

L452R is the same mutation seen with the California homegrown variant and E484Q is similar to the mutation seen in the Brazilian and South African variants.

Both of the mutations occur on key parts of the virus that allows it to enter and infect human cells. 

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally classified the Delta variant as a ‘variant of concern.’

This is an upgrade from ‘variant of interest,’ which is when a virus is suspected to be more contagious than other variants rather than confirmed to be. 

On Tuesday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN that the Delta variant ‘is rapidly increasing here in the United States’ and that the country could see a similar situation to what occurred in the UK. 

Between June 2 and June 9, the average number of people in the UK who tested was 5,984, a 66 percent increase from the 3,606 average the previous week.

However, between June 9 and June 16, the average number of people getting sick was only 32 percent higher than the 3,606 average. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday night that the numbers were forcing the end of UK lockdowns to be pushed back by four weeks.

Remaining lockdown restrictions are now due to be lifted on July 19, which Johnson  promised would be the ‘terminus date.’ 

The variant has wreaked havoc, across the UK, responsible for 90% of all cases and leading to a rise in 9,000 people testing positive on Wednesday, the highest since February

The variant has wreaked havoc, across the UK, responsible for 90% of all cases and leading to a rise in 9,000 people testing positive on Wednesday, the highest since February 

There are signs the growth may be slowing with a new study estimating symptomatic cases rose by a third in the UK last week after doubling a week earlier

There are signs the growth may be slowing with a new study estimating symptomatic cases rose by a third in the UK last week after doubling a week earlier

Slavitt told CNN that that he suspects there will be outbreaks in fall 2021 in communities where vaccination rates are low.

A recent study from Public Health England that Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 96 percent effective against hospitalization from the Delta variant after two doses and that the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine in 92 percent effective.

Murthy told CNN that there is not enough data yet to show how effective Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine is against the Indian Delta variant.

‘The key is get vaccinated, get both doses,’ Murthy told CNN.

Across the country, 44.1 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, including 51.6 percent of adults, according to CDC data.

Biden has set a goal of vaccinating at least 70 percent of adults with one dose by July 4.

As of Thursday, 14 states have reached that goal, but daily vaccinations have slowed considerably from more than three million per day in April to 1.1 million in June.

Slavitt was asked how likely it is that Biden’s target will be hit.

‘I think we’re going to be, around the Fourth of July, very close to Biden’s target of 70 percent of American [adults] vaccinated. maybe it will be 68, maybe it will be a little bit more,’ he said.

The real danger is 68 or 70 percent will look much higher  in some parts of the country and much lower in other parts of the country.

Biden has set a goal of vaccinating at least 70 percent of adults with one dose by July 4 but vaccinations have slowed considerably from more than three million per day in April to 1.1 million in June

Biden has set a goal of vaccinating at least 70 percent of adults with one dose by July 4 but vaccinations have slowed considerably from more than three million per day in April to 1.1 million in June

The news comes as overall metrics are on the decline. 

On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 12,430 new COVID-19 infections, with a rolling average of 11,015, which is the the lowest figure seen since March 27, according to a DailyMail.com analysis.

There were 368 daily deaths recorded in the last 24 hours with a rolling average of about 294 – the lowest number since March 30, the analysis shows.

With falling numbers, states have been dropping pandemic restrictions and mask requirements for residents, a big step in the return to pre-pandemic times. 

New York, one of the states that reached 70 percent of adults with at least one coronavirus vaccine dose, saw most of its restrictions lifted on Tuesday,

Gov Andrew Cuomo removed capacity restrictions for businesses, offices and restaurants as well as cleaning protocols, and contact tracing.

‘This is a momentous day, and we deserve it because it has been a long, long road,’ Cuomo said. 

‘We can now return to life as we know it.’ 

On the same day, California, the first state to enact stay-at-home orders, lifted capacity limits at restaurants, bars and other businesses, and said masks will not be required for fully vaccinated people at most venues.

‘With all due respect, eat your heart out, the rest of the United States. There is no state in America that has more,’ Gov Gavin Newsom said on the eve of the reopening.

‘The state is not just poised to recover, it’s poised to come roaring back.’ 


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