On Wednesday, New York City held a ticker tape parade for essential workers who serve the public in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But according to the Delta variant of the COVID-19 infection, their work isn’t over yet.
The Delta variant of the COVID-19 infection was first diagnosed in India amid a surge in infections in the country this recent spring. It became the dominant infection in the country and in Great Britain. The variant is easily transmissible.
The first Delta variant case in the United States was diagnosed in March. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delta variant made up 20% of all new COVID cases in the United States.
Those who are vaccinated stand a better chance of fighting off the variant. According to statistics from Yale Medicine, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease and 96% effective against hospitalizations. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 60% effective against symptomatic disease and 93% effective against hospitalization.
The Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
For populations in certain cities, this has the potential to be deadly and tragic.
According to statistics from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, only 32% of Black New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the vaccination; only 29% are fully vaccinated, the lowest percentage among all races within the five boroughs.
“The Delta variant is not to be underestimated and it is causing real problems in other parts of the world,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during a recent Interfaith Luncheon. “The reason we’re doing as well as we are doing is because we keep vaccinating constantly, but we got to keep that momentum up. So, this is a call to arms. Everyone I need to ask of you to go to maximum in your vaccination efforts, tell us what you need, our whole team will be following up, whatever you need. If it’s time to do a special effort at a house of worship, to do a pop-up site, to do a van, to do a bus, we’ll get it there. If it’s time to do a gathering, to encourage people, we’ll do it.
“Whatever it takes, especially in communities that are still vaccinated at too low a rate.”
During a talk broadcast on the World Health Organization’s website, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the organization’s chief scientist, said that the body will have a harder time fighting against the Delta variant once it’s infected. He also advocated for more vaccinations.
“So we’re talking here about the Delta variant, which is the fourth variant of concern described by WHO because it’s both more transmissible than the previous variant and also has been able to resist the antibodies that we have in our blood,” said Swaminathan. “So what that means is that you need a higher level of antibodies to overcome this variant as compared to, let’s say, the Alpha variant.”
The current vaccines have shown a great fight against the Delta variant, and you’re less likely to end up in the hospital if you’ve been vaccinated.
According to the CDC’s latest statistics, the Delta variant of the COVID-19 infection now makes up 51.7% of all new cases in the U.S. when compared to 30% two weeks ago. The majority of these cases can be found in the South, the Midwest and the southwest portions of the country.
Cities like Los Angeles are facing a surge in cases among the Black and Brown population as well.
According to statistics from the county, from the middle of May to the middle of June, Black residents were the only population to see a surge in COVID-19 infections. Cases among Black residents increased by 11% as opposed to 37%, 12% and 29% declines from whites, Asians and Latinos respectively.
While establishments have opened up and the city is back in business, the city reported on Wednesday 326 COVID-19 infections and three COVID-related deaths. However, the city warned that those numbers could be low due to delays in reporting.
Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles public health director, said in a statement that places with high vaccinations have seen a lower rate of infection.
“While vaccination rates continue to increase throughout L.A. County, COVID-19 and variants of concern like the Delta variant remain a threat to everyone unvaccinated,” said Ferrer. “L.A. County has recently seen increases in cases, hospitalizations, and daily test positivity and the people that are overwhelmingly suffering from COVID-19, are the people who are not vaccinated.”
In the 12 to 15, 16 to 17, 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 age ranges, Black Los Angeles residents had the lowest percentage of full vaccinations.
Swaminathan said the current climate has made it even more important to get vaccinated.
“Why do you want to take the risk of doing that?” stated Swaminathan. “Why do you want to be one person in the chain of transmission? What we need to do in the world today is to break those chains of transmission, get a control on this disease. So that’s why we say get vaccinated as soon as you can get access to your vaccine when your turn comes and continue to take all the precautions so that you are completely protecting yourself as well as protecting others around you.”
All of this to say that the Delta variant could shut things down once more.