KEY POINTS

  • The COVID-19 Delta variant could cause a new surge of infections in the U.S. 
  • The Delta variant is 60% more transmissible and produces more severe symptoms 
  • People are encouraged to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the variant

The Delta COVID-19 variant is more dangerous than all the other strains of coronavirus and is likely to give rise to a new surge of infections in the United States by fall, Dr. Scott Gottlieb has claimed.

One of the newest strains of the coronavirus is the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2. First discovered in India, the Delta variant has since infected people globally and is infamous for its ability to replicate faster than any other variant, CBS News reported.

In an interview with John Dickerson on "Face the Nation," Dr. Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), revealed that the Delta variant will very likely "take over" infections in the U.S. and that the strain could spike a new epidemic as fall approaches.

"Right now, in the United States, it's about 10% of infections. It's doubling every two weeks," Dr. Gottlieb said. "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. And I think the risk is really to the fall that this could spike a new epidemic heading into the fall."

The former FDA commissioner said that the B.1.617.2 strain is about 60% more transmissible than the original U.K. variant, or B.1.1.7. The strain is also known to produce more severe symptoms, according to doctors.

Health experts have found that patients infected with the Delta variant are becoming sicker, with their conditions worsening much more quickly. The patients' virus concentrations have reached levels higher than previously seen and appeared to decline slowly, The New York Times has learned.

Despite this, Dr. Gottlieb said that the COVID-19 vaccines appear to be effective against the Delta variant. This means that people who have not been vaccinated are at the highest risk of getting infected with the strain.

"I think in parts of the country where you have less vaccination, particularly in parts of the South, where you have some cities where vaccination rates are low, there's a risk that you could see outbreaks with this new variant," he said.

To lower the risk of transmission, the former commissioner urged people to get inoculated when they can.

"The mRNA vaccine seems to be highly effective, two doses of that vaccine against this variant. The viral vector vaccines from J&J and AstraZeneca also appear to be effective, about 60% effective. The [Moderna and Pfizer]mRNA vaccines are about 88% effective."

"So we have the tools to control this and defeat it. We just need to use those tools."

Progress of Covid-19 vaccinations Progress of Covid-19 vaccinations Photo: AFP / Valentin RAKOVSKY