The Delta variant of Covid-19 is making news and presenting the possibility of a new Covid surge in the United States. Currently, this variant, first detected in India, is the dominant strain of Covid-19 in both India and the United Kingdom. San Diego County is close to its vaccination goals for residents, but this variant is spreading rapidly, especially among children. How should seniors, their families, and their caregivers in San Diego protect themselves against the new Delta variant?
While the Delta variant is responsible for only 6% of the new U.S. cases that are gene-sequenced, the true percentage is likely higher. Only some cases are gene-sequenced, and regionally, 18% of cases in the western U.S. states are caused by the Delta variant. The data from India, which is having a truly horrifying 2021, and from the U.K., which is experiencing a new surge, indicates that the Delta variant is highly transmissible and produces more hospitalizations than the original Covid-19 strain. Even worse, Dr. Fauci has reported that transmission of this variant peaks in younger people ages 12 to 20.
The transmissibility, rapid spread and severity of infections caused by this new variant threatens the hope that so many of us have for a ‘normal’ summer. San Diego County moved into the Yellow Tier on June 9th, and the state expects to open fully on June 15th. At that point, “[i]n many cases, people who are fully vaccinated will not need to wear a mask indoors … said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.”
As of this week, only forty-three percent of the United States is fully vaccinated and with only 1% of Americans receiving a vaccination dose each day, the goal of 70% vaccination by Fourth of July seems out of reach. California’s vaccination rate is higher at fifty-four percent, but such a large pool of unvaccinated humans only gives the variant more opportunities to spread.
So, what is the good news for seniors and caregivers in San Diego?
- According to NPR on June 8th, “The good news is that the vaccines look like they can protect people against the Delta variant. A new study from Public Health England showed two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant compared with 93% effectiveness against the Alpha variant, the variant first detected in the U.K. The vaccine only provided 33% protection after just one dose.”
- On June 9th, CNBC reported that “Covid cases in the U.S. continue to fall. The country’s seven-day average of daily new coronavirus infections is around 14,400, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. That’s about 17% lower than it was a week ago. It also represents an over 60% decline from roughly a month ago. The highest single day of new cases in the U.S. was 300,462 on Jan. 2.”
- Nearly 600,000 San Diegans over age 60 have been vaccinated with at least one dose, and approximately 1.2 million residents are fully vaccinated at this point. San Diego County has almost reached its goal of providing 75% of the population with some vaccine protection. This means that San Diego residents won’t have as much exposure to an unprotected population vulnerable to the Delta variant.
The best way for anyone receiving or providing in home care in San Diego to handle the expected spread of the Delta variant is to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Anyone who has received just one dose of a two-dose vaccine should get the second dose as quickly as possible for full protection. To make a vaccination appointment for yourself or your loved one, please consult the resources we list on our blog “How Do Seniors Make Vaccination Appointments in San Diego?”