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OhioHealth warns about Delta variant of COVID-19, encourages vaccinations

Doctors say the more time people wait to get vaccinated, the more time COVID-19 variants can have to mutate and be more resistant to existing vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning the country about the Delta variant of covid-19.  

First detected in India, in late 2020, the variant accounts for more than 6% of all infections in the United States.   

How concerned should people in the United States be, and how do local doctors think we can fight this? 

OhioHealth's Dr. Joseph Gastaldo says it all comes down to getting more people vaccinated.  

Things are looking up in the state as far as those vaccinations go, though.  

"Specifically, Riverside Methodist hospital our COVID inpatient numbers are extraordinarily low. Today we only have 10 patients in the hospital,” Gastaldo said.  

According to data from the Ohio Department of Health, more than 46% of Ohioans have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the Delta variant could pose more trouble in the future if those vaccine numbers don’t go up. 

The CDC says the Delta variant is 40% more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus, and Dr. Gastaldo feels it is a threat experts need their eyes on.  

"It is the most contagious variant of the virus we have to date,” he said. 

"It may have a higher disease severity." 

Dr. Gastaldo says the delta variant is causing spikes in other countries, primarily among unvaccinated people.  

Looking at how things are going in the United States, more cases of it will likely crop up. 

"It really goes into the conversation of getting vaccines into people's arms,” he said. 

Dr. Gastaldo says the more time it takes to get most people in the country vaccinated, the more time the Delta or any other variant has to mutate and be stronger against existing vaccines.  

That will not happen overnight, though.  

"With this Delta variant, it's 88% effective, so with further mutations, it could be that the next variant is 86% effective or the vaccines are 78% effective,” he said. 

Gastaldo says that protection is still great, and people wouldn't have to worry about that decline in effectiveness if people get a vaccine.

"If you have not received any vaccine that is the riskier proposition.” 

Dr. Gastaldo also wants to make it clear, people who've had COVID-19 before are not protected from the virus if they are not vaccinated.  

However, getting vaccinated could put them at more of an advantage than vaccinated people who haven't had COVID.