Delta has become the dominant variant, making up nearly 52-percent of new infections

NOW: Delta has become the dominant variant, making up nearly 52-percent of new infections


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In early June, CBS 58 reported the highly contagious Delta variant made up 6-percent of all COVID cases. Just four weeks later, the variant has now become dominant in the U.S., making up nearly 52-percent of new infections, according to CDC data.

"Anytime we see a variant spread the way that the Delta variant has, it's concerning because it brings up all kinds of questions about you know, are we adequately protected?" said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health.

Doctors all around the country call Delta the most transmissible COVID variant yet, but the jury is still out on whether you'll get more sick if infected.

"It's about 60 to 70-percent more likely to be transmitted, so the kind of activities that maybe before wouldn't have led to the transmission of the virus, now could," says Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director at the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

"Studies are conflicting, in some areas they've seen increase in hospitalizations from the Delta variant, certainly they see an increased rate of severe illness in young people," adds Dr. Ben Weston, associate professor at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin.

From six-percent of cases in early June to now nearly 51.7-percent according to CDC data, Delta has surpassed the former predominant B.1.1.7 or Alpha variant. The Alpha variant now only makes up 28.7-percent of COVID cases.

The quick spread of the Delta variant is not a surprise to infectious disease experts.

"Whatever offers the variant a competitive advantage, it quickly overruns the other type," Dr. Safdar says.

The CDC says nearly 68-percent of U.S. adults have gotten one dose. Even with the increasing vaccination rates, health officials say Delta is "absolutely still a threat" to unvaccinated people and cities with low vaccination rates.

"Absolutely you're at risk," adds Dr. Weston. "You're at higher risk being unvaccinated around somebody who has COVID and has this variant than you would've been in the fall or several months ago."

Doctors say efforts to reduce spread still work against Delta and while the vaccine is effective, people should always gauge their risk.

"It isn’t that COVID cannot be transmitted if you're talking to somebody for five minutes, but you know the longer that interaction goes and those parties are unmasked, then the higher the risk," Dr. Safdar said.

Dr. Weston says if you are still waiting to get the vaccine, now is the time to protect yourself. At this point, more than 180 million Americans have been vaccinated.

He says it's proven to be safe, and two doses of the mRNA vaccine are at least 90-percent effective against the Delta variant.

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