• CDC says the Delta variant accounts for about 10% of COVID-19 cases in the US
  • Experts warn that the variant could mutate and become more dangerous
  • Former White House adviser warns about potential COVID-19 outbreaks in the fall

Former White House senior adviser for coronavirus response has described the Delta variant, first identified in India, as “COVID-19 on steroids” and urged Americans to get vaccinated against the virus.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated, or you live in a community where there’s a lot of people who haven’t been vaccinated, this is a more virulent strain,” Andy Slavitt told CNN on Wednesday. “This is like COVID on steroids. You can be around people for less time and still get exposed."

“So it’s yet another reason why people should, if they haven’t been vaccinated, should think about getting vaccinated,” he added.

Slavitt also warned about potential COVID-19 outbreaks in the fall, particularly in areas in the Southeast United States, where vaccination rates have slowed down in recent weeks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled the Delta strain a “variant of concern” after a report from Public Health England showed it is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was first detected in the U.K. and is 50% more contagious than the original strain.

Health experts also warned that the Delta variant now accounts for 10% of all new cases reported in the U.S., with former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gotlieb noting that the case numbers are doubling every two weeks.

“Right now in the United States, it's about 10% of infections. It's doubling every two weeks. So it's probably going to become the dominant strain here in the United States. That doesn't mean that we're going to see a sharp uptick in infections, but it does mean that this is going to take over,” Gotlieb told CBS News on Sunday.

Recent reports indicate that the Delta variant may be more serious than other strains. It could also have the ability to evade the protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines. Experts warn that the Delta variant could mutate and replicate more if it keeps spreading among the unvaccinated population.

"The worst-case scenario is if Delta mutates into something completely different, a completely different animal, and then our current vaccines are even less effective or ineffective," Vivek Cherian, an internal-medicine physician in Baltimore, told The Business Insider.

COVID-19 has so far claimed more than 600,000 lives in the United States, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

Early in the pandemic the WHO repeatedly suggested that facemasks worn by the general public risked doing more harm than good
Early in the pandemic the WHO repeatedly suggested that facemasks worn by the general public risked doing more harm than good AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS