The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently changed the Delta variant from a variant of interest to a variant of concern, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), which on June 18 added it to the Variants of Concern (VOC) Dashboard.
The VDH noted the variant is spread more easily, might cause more severe illness, could escape the immune protection provided by available COVID-19 vaccines or by natural infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, could make viral tests less accurate, and might make some treatments less effective.
The VDH also noted that 41 cases of this variant have been identified in four of the five health regions since March.
Some variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been classified as variants of concern because they may increase the risk to human health.
COVID-19 variants have been emerging and circulating around the world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely that these variants are more common in our communities than the number of reported cases suggest. This is because not all COVID-19 positive samples are tested to see what variant type they are.
Therefore, it is important now, more than ever, that we all continue following public health recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants.
COVID-19 vaccines, authorized for use in the United States, are effective at protecting persons from circulating variants of the COVID-19 virus. To protect yourself and others, get vaccinated for COVID-19. Until you are fully vaccinated, continue wearing a mask correctly, stay at least six feet from others outside of your household, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands often. Also, remember to stay home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19. If you are fully vaccinated, you can safely resume many activities that you did before the pandemic. However, if you have a health condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you should talk to your provider about precautions you can take. The best way to stop variant strains from developing in the first place is to stop the spread of the virus.
For more information from the CDC on variants of concern, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant-info.html.
The VOC dashboard will be updated once a week on Fridays. It is available on the VDH website at .vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-insights/.