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The delta variant could dominate the U.S. in weeks. Here’s what to know

The delta COVID-19 variant may soon dominate the United States, putting more people at risk for coronavirus

A man gets a COVID-19 test.
Cole Hughes receives a COVID-19 rapid test at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 17, 2021.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

Experts are concerned that the dangerous delta coronavirus variant may soon dominate the entire United States, putting more people at risk for getting COVID-19.

William Lee, vice president of science at Helix, which helps the CDC track variants, told NPR that the recent rise in delta variant cases is cause for concern, especially because it’s outpacing the alpha variant, which was originally discovered in the United Kingdom.

  • “It definitely is of concern,” he said.
  • “Just the fact that it’s so transmissible means that it’s dangerous, and so I think you’ll see outbreaks of delta around the country and more people will get sick from it,” he added.

And delta might not be the endgame for COVID-19. Lee told NPR that the gamma variant — which was originally discovered in Brazil — may spread as well. And the gamma is particularly troubling because it’s better at evading vaccines than the delta variant, Lee said.

  • “It looks like both of them are going to slowly push out alpha,” he said.

There’s reason to worry about the delta coronavirus variant, especially if you’re unvaccinated.

For the most part, experts aren’t worried for vaccinated people, who are protected against COVID-19, as I explained for the Deseret News. But the unvaccinated may spread the delta variant, which leads to more variants, Vivek Cherian, an internal medicine physician in Baltimore, told Insider.

  • “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,” Cherian told Insider.

Dr. Paul Offit told CNN that vaccines are the biggest way to stop the spread of variants.

  • “Vaccines are our only way out of this,” Offit told CNN. “Unless we vaccinate a significant percentage of the population before winter hits, you’re going to see more spread and the creation of more variants, which will only make this task more difficult.”