What to know about the COVID-19 delta variant.

What is the COVID Delta variant?

Right in the middle of a summer that is looking and feeling much more like normal, news of a rapidly spreading delta variant of SARS-CoV-2―the virus that causes COVID-19―is unsettling and causing lots of questions.

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant has increased from about a third of cases in the U.S. in early June to more than half of new cases in early July.

It is much more easily transmitted from person to person, and some reports suggest it causes more severe disease―although more information is needed to say for sure.

Are the symptoms of the delta variant different or more dangerous?

The symptoms appear to be similar, although we will learn more as new studies are published. Information from Scotland published in the Lancet [medical journal] suggests that people in younger age groups are being infected with the delta variant and infection with delta is associated with a two-fold increased risk of hospitalization compared to the alpha variant.

Should I think about masking or social distancing again?

While guidelines on wearing masks and social distancing have loosened, people should take into account their surroundings, their own health considerations and what they know about the region of the country where they are, doctors said. It is important to consider both your own risk and the risk to your loved ones, particularly children and immunocompromised individuals. This is especially true in regions of the country with high rates of delta transmission.

It would be safest for those with risk factors for serious complications and anyone who is immunocompromised to continue to wear masks, avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing.

People may be more likely to end up in the hospital if they have the delta variant. Studies suggest it might have almost double the risk of hospitalization than the alpha variant. Top symptoms reported on the app include:

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

A cough is becoming less common and loss of smell is no longer listed in the top 10 common symptoms anymore. Researchers are concerned people may mistake symptoms for a bad cold and avoid quarantine, helping the variant spread.

Source: Penn State University

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