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Even with caseloads remaining low in much of the U.S. and states continuing to relax protective restrictions, two realities remain inescapable as the COVID-19 pandemic continues: 1) The Delta variant is associated with approximately double the risk of hospitalization compared with the Alpha variant, per a research letter just published by The Lancet and 2) persistent refusal by residents of certain states puts us all at risk for the Delta variant to become the dominant strain here, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A glimmer of hope resides in data showing that a complete vaccine regimen provides “strong protection” against the Delta variant (though possibly lower than the Alpha variant, according to that Lancet research letter). To make matters all the more urgent, full protection against the Delta variant was not seen until at least 28 days after the first vaccine dose. The Delta variant has already taken the lead over the Alpha in Scotland, and states with relatively low vaccination rates are at greater risk for a similar trajectory.

The More We Know About the COVID-19 Delta Variant, the More Urgent Vaccination Becomes