Local health expert talks about COVID variant ‘of concern’


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Experts say that there could be a new dominant variant of COVID-19 in just one week.

The Indian variant, also known as DELTA, is highly transmissible. The strain now makes up about 10 percent of U.S. cases, up from 1% last month.

Research is saying that the COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the DELTA strain but only after receiving both doses.

Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health Youngstown, explains how COVID-19 is mutating.

“As we have variants come up, I think one of the things that’s important is to remember this is normal for viruses. Viruses do mutate,” Kravec said. “The more they replicate and spread, the more they will mutate. That’s really how it is connected to the vaccine because if we can get more people vaccinated, there will be less spread. When there is less spread, there are fewer mutations that come up. That’s really essential, locally, country-wide and worldwide to vaccinate as many people as possible to prevent the mutations from happening. That will prevent the spread to people that could possibly be vaccinated as well.”

The Centers for Disease Control is urging people to get vaccinated. They say the Delta strain is a variant “of concern, which is one for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g.,  increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.

To date, no variants of high consequence have been identified in the United States, according to the CDC.

Currently, 43.4% of people in the United States have received both doses of their vaccine.

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