A public health expert says that fully vaccinated Americans are helping spread the Indian ‘Delta’ variant of the novel coronavirus across the country.
The variant, which is 50 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that originated in the UK, currently makes up more than half of cases in the U.S.
But because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that vaccinated people not get tested for COVID-19 unless they’re symptomatic, it could mean that the true prevalence is much higher.
‘We actually have states where hospitalizations are going up more than cases,’ Dr Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told Insider.
‘We’re probably missing a bunch of transmission in vaccinated individuals…There’s no doubt in my mind.’
It could explain why states with high vaccination rates such as California, Illinois, New York and Washington are seeing a rise in cases.
A public health expert says he believes the Indian ‘Delta’ coronavirus variant is partly being spread due to transmission from vaccinated Americans, even in highly vaccinated pockets of the country (above)
LOS ANGELES: At least 60% of residents aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated, but COVID-19 infections have risen by 165% in a week (above)
NEW YORK CITY: Around 63% of all adults have completed their vaccine series, new cases have risen by 295 since June 24 (above)
According to CDC data updated on Tuesday evening, the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, makes up 51.7 percent of all new infections.
That’s up from the 26.1 percent of cases previously linked to the variant, meaning its prevalence has nearly doubled in two weeks.
The Delta variant has been detected in all 50 states and accounts for more than 80 percent of new infections in Midwestern states such as Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, where vaccination rates are lagging.
About half of all states have been seeing COVID-19 cases increase as the variant spreads, a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data earlier this week found.
But unvaccinated communities are not the only regions reporting increases in infections.
Los Angeles County, where 60 percent of residents aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated, is reporting an explosion of new cases.
According to a news release from the county’s Department of Public Health, there has a been a 165 percent increase of new cases over the last week with 839 new infections of COVID-19.
Additionally, the average case rate has increased from 1.74 cases per 100,000 to 3.5 cases per 100,000.
What’s more, the Delta variant now makes up 54 percent of all samples that underwent genomic sequencing.
Meanwhile, New York City – one of the country’s first epicenters – is seeing a similar situation unfold.
According to CDC data updated on Tuesday evening, the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, makes up 51.7% of all new infections
The expert said the CDC’s guidance that vaccinated people only get tested if they have symptoms means the U.S. ‘is missing a bunch of transmission’ and that the true prevalence of Delta is much higher
New cases have risen by 29 percent from a seven-day average of 193 on June 24 to 249 on July 7, city data show, despite 63 percent of adults fully immunized.
What’s more, the Delta variant now makes up 26 percent of cases sequenced in the city, up from 17.1 percent, according to the health department.
This mean the strain has now overtaken the Iota variant that first cropped in New York City and the Brazilian ‘Gamma’ variant, as the second most prevalent strain and will likely overtake the Alpha variant by next week.
According to Murray, although these increases are less dramatic than those seen in unvaccinated pockets of the country, vaccinated areas are also seeing spikes because coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.
In New York City, nearly all capacity limits and mask requirements were lifted when the state hit 70 percent of adults with at least one vaccine dose last month.
And, on June 15, California lifted all physical distancing requirements and capacity limitations, which means the same occurred in Los Angeles.
Transmission is going up ‘due to the Delta variant and the fact that everybody’s stopped wearing a mask and just basically stopped most precautions,’ Murray told Insider.
He also referenced data from Scotland which showed that, although more than half of the country is fully vaccinated, cases have surged.
Since June 25, COVID-19 infections have jumped 84 percent from 1,747 cases to 3,216 recorded on Friday, according to data from the Scottish Government.
‘You cannot explain the explosive epidemic in Scotland, in a pretty highly vaccinated population, if they’re not playing a role in transmission,’ Murray said.
‘That window of transmission probably goes down,’ he said.