LAFAYETTE — A new strain of COVID-19 has emerged in India called the Delta Variant, and according to healthcare officials this new strain is more contagious than previous strains.
"You know we have the original COVID virus that was circulating, and then we had the UK variant which became the predominant circulating strain, and that is about fifty percent more transmissible than the original COVID virus," says Dr. Tina Stefanski, the regional medical director for the office of public health in Acadiana. "This new Delta variant is about sixty percent more transmissible than the UK variant, so we can see that this strain spreads more easily."
Dr. Stefanski believes that the Delta variant will soon become the new predominant variant above the original virus, but she says that there is hope for our community.
"The great news is that the vaccines that we have access to are effective against this variant," she says. "It's important for people to know that they need to get both doses for it to be effective, though."
Dr. Stefanski doesn't see a massive outbreak like last year, but she does believe that this fall will be different now that people are no longer wearing masks and not practicing social distancing. And with only 29 percent of Acadiana's population being vaccinated, she is worried that it won't be enough to keep the Delta variant out of our community.
"It is more easily transmissible, so when we talked about before needing to be within six feet of someone for fifteen minutes or more to be exposed, this variant will not likely be like that because it spreads easier. More than likely, you won't need as much contact with someone to be infected which is very concerning," says Dr. Stefanski. "What we certainly will start seeing is those people who are not vaccinated will be more at risk."
Dr. Stefanski is encouraging everyone to get their vaccines before the fall, when the hospitals see an increase in admissions due to upper respiratory illnesses, but for now she doesn't believe the community needs to panic.
"Right now, we need to just focus on the things that we can do, and that is get our vaccines and monitor our health," she says.
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