DELTA VARIANT

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The delta variant is a newer form of coronavirus. Viruses change (mutate) over time. A new form is called a variant.

The World Health Organization and U.S. officials are tracking variants. They include “variants of concern,” such as delta, and “variants of interest.”

For public ease, the WHO names some variants after Greek letters. Variants also have scientific names; delta’s is B.1.617.2.

Yes. It is about twice as contagious as previous forms of the coronavirus and nearly as contagious as chickenpox.

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ARE THE SYMPTOMS DIFFERENT FROM THE ORIGINAL FORM OF VIRUS?

The symptoms are the same among most variants, according to the CDC. They include shortness of breath, fever, cough, and new loss of taste or smell.

Much is unknown, and research is underway. But early data suggest:

  • Symptoms may be more severe with the delta variant. Studies in Scotland, Canada, and Singapore suggest that delta causes more severe illness.

  • Symptoms may vary for those who are fully vaccinated compared with those who aren’t.

Vaccinated people were most likely to report, in this order:

  • Runny nose

  • Headache

  • Sneezing

  • Sore throat

  • Loss of smell

Unvaccinated people were most likely to report, in this order:

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • Runny nose

  • Fever

  • Cough

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM THIS VARIANT?

Get vaccinated.  And make sure to get your second dose if you received Pfizer or Moderna.

IF I AM VACCINATED, CAN I STILL CONTRACT THIS VARIANT?

Yes, but you are much less likely to become seriously ill if you are vaccinated.

HOW MANY CORONAVIRUS VARIANTS ARE THERE?

COVID tests will show whether you have COVID, but not what variant. Additional tests can be run to sequence the virus to tell the variant, but it may take several days. 

In any case, if you contract COVID, it’s likely it’s the delta variant. It’s the most common form of coronavirus in Oklahoma and across the U.S.

Regardless of which form of the virus you contract, recommendations for treatment and isolating yourself from others are the same. Sequencing might become more common if treatment recommendations change with the type of COVID.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified thousands of coronavirus variants. Only a tiny portion have changes (mutations) that affect how the virus behaves.

The WHO and the CDC created three categories to track variants, from least concerning to most:

  • Variants of interest: These variants have indicated changes that scientists know or predict will affect traits, such as how easily the virus spreads or how sick it makes people. Variants in this group are eta, iota, kappa, lambda, and mu.

  • Variants of concern: These variants have shown evidence of changes that make them more contagious. They may spread more easily, be better at getting past vaccines, or cause illness that is harder to treat. Variants in this group are alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.

  • Variants of high consequence: Currently, there is no variant in this category. This variant would evade tests and vaccines, cause severe illness, and resist more than one therapy.

TOP FACTS ABOUT THE DELTA VARIANT

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The delta variant spreads more quickly than previous forms of the coronavirus. It is about as contagious as chickenpox.