Just as we thought life would soon return to our pre-pandemic normal, the coronavirus Delta variant arrived, sending patients to the emergency room in droves. But what is the Delta variant and why is it so concerning? Here’s what you need to know.
It’s more contagious.
The original coronavirus was already very easily transmitted, but the Delta variant is even more contagious. Viruses are crafty organisms capable of undergoing mutations designed to help them survive. A mutation that helps a virus easily spread to new hosts is certainly an example of this. The Delta variant quickly spread to all 50 states to become the majority of infections. Instead of each infected person spreading the coronavirus to two or three people on average, those with the Delta variant may be spreading it to four to five people – or more. It’s also thought that the Delta variant may spread to others sooner than the original coronavirus.
You may get sicker.
A recent study has shown that patients infected by the coronavirus Delta variant are twice as likely to be hospitalized when compared to those patients infected by earlier variants. Hospitalized patients have presented with more severe illness when infected by the deadly Delta variant. However, because the Delta variant is still relatively new, there is still much unknown about it.
The unvaccinated are most at risk.
More than 8out of 10 hospitalized coronavirus patients are unvaccinated, revealing theCOVID-19 vaccines’ impressive protective power. Also, vaccinated patients who have contracted the virus in “breakout” infections have so far had more mild infections, with most of those needing hospitalization being elderly and frail. In contrast, among the unvaccinated, the Delta variant is sending largely younger patients, young and middle-aged adults, to the hospital. Not only are unvaccinated people more likely to contract the Delta variant; they’re also more likely to be hospitalized and die from it. Areas with lower vaccination rates are being hit especially hard, with coronavirus patients filling up hospitals and stressing local healthcare systems once again.
There is still much we can do.
The single best thing you can do to protect yourself against the Delta variant is to get one of the available coronavirus vaccines, which are safe and effective. In the meantime, until vaccination rates increase, returning to wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, social distancing, and washing your hands frequently are all helpful and smart strategies to help you avoid infection and spreading the virus to others. Gathering outdoors, rather than indoors, can help you stay social, since the coronavirus doesn’t spread as easily outdoors.
Also, keep in mind that even if you are vaccinated, you may still be able to spread the virus to others. For this reason, isolate and get tested for COVID-19if you feel sick with respiratory symptoms or experience a loss of taste or smell. Finally, if you do become ill with the coronavirus, seek medical attention, especially if you are unvaccinated, since you have a higher risk of serious infection. At Laredo Emergency Room, we’re well equipped to treat patients experiencing shortness of breath and other symptoms of coronavirus.
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