The former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that the country is likely to see outbreaks of the Indian ‘Delta’ coronavirus variant in some communities.
In an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Dr Scott Gottlieb said he expects cases to rise in areas with low vaccination rates.
‘It’s not going to be as pervasive,’ Gottlieb said.
‘It’s going to hyper-regionalized. There’s certain pockets of the country where you’re going to have very dense outbreaks.’
This means southern and western states such as Arkansas, Mississippi and Wyoming – who have less than one-third of their population fully vaccinated – are at high risk, and already seeing a rise in cases.
It comes as the variant continues to ravage the UK, with Delta driving an explosion of new cases, and COVID-19 infections up 60 percent from a week ago,
Gottlieb warned that the U.S. is only ‘about a month or two’ behind the UK and that America should expect to see a similar situation.
Former FDA commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday (pictured) he expects outbreaks of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant to rise in areas with low vaccination rates
The variant makes up 20% of American cases and Gottlieb said U.S. is only a month behind the UK, which saw daily cases hit 22,000 cases per day on Monday from 2,000 in April
Southern states with a small percentage of the population fully vaccinated are seeing an increase in cases due to Delta
Known as B.1.617.2, the Delta variant has been labeled as a ‘double mutant’ by India’s Health Ministry 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.
Its transmissibility has been clear as it wreaks havoc in the UK.
On Monday, the UK recorded 22,868 new cases of COVID-19, which is the most reported since late January.
This is a 1040 percent increase from 2,000 cases recorded in late April, when the Delta variant first took hold.
Additionally, deaths have nearly tripled in the last week, with 122 COVID-related fatalities recorded in the last seven days compared to 48 the previous seven days.
Last week, Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said during a White House COVID-19 Response Team press briefing that the variant is also rapidly in the U.S., currently accounts for 20.6 percent of infections.
Gottlieb says he believes that what is happening in the UK is a foreshadowing of what’s to come in the U.S.
That means the 20 percent figure is only expected to rise.
‘I think as you look across the United States, if you’re a community that has low vaccination rates and you also think that there was low immunity from prior infection, so the virus really hasn’t coursed through the local population, those communities are vulnerable,’ he told Face the Nation .
‘So, I think governors need to be thinking about how they build out health care resources in areas of the country where you still have a lot of vulnerability.’
One of those states in Arkansas, which currently only has xx percent of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Arkansas has seen an average of 300 cases per day, an increase from 200 the last month, and health officials say the Delta variant is to blame.
Currently, 56 percent of all cases in the state that undergo genetic sequencing are linked to Delta.
‘That tells us that the variant is spreading widely and that it’s spreading quickly,’ Dr Jennifer Dillaha, the Director of Epidemiology for the Arkansas Department of Health told Action News 5.
‘My concern is that if people are not immune to it, then this variant will find them and infect them and cause illness.’
Arkansas has seen an average of 300 cases per day in the last week, an increase from 200 the last month, and 56% of all cases are linked to the Delta variant
In Mississippi, there has been 18% increase in the seven-day rolling average of cases from 111 to 132, and at least 60 cases are associated with Delta
Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said hospitalizations are up 30 percent and encouraged residents to get vaccinated.
‘The Delta variant is a great concern to us. We see that impacting our increasing cases and hospitalizations,’ Hutchinson told Face the Nation.
‘We’ve got to make sure we do everything we can to get the word out, which we have. We have used incentives that have not been very successful. We’ve obviously done marketing for our vaccines. We are educating, doing everything we can.’
In Mississippi, health officials said there a growing number of cases linked to the Delta variant.
According to WAPT, state epidemiologist Dr Paul Byers said there have been at least 60 cases associated with the variant since the fist infection was identified a few weeks ago.
The state is currently averaging 132 COVID-19 infections per day, an 18 percent increase from 111 from earlier this month.
Meanwhile, less than 30 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
‘The vaccine is still effective against it, but remember that a vaccine is not 100 percent,’ Byers said.
‘And when you have an individual in congregate settings in very close contact and put in a place with highly infectious variants, there is a possibility of transmission.’