DOVER — After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified the delta COVID-19 variant as a “Variant of Concern,” the Delaware Division of Public Health identified two more cases of the variant this week from sequencing cases in the DPH lab.
The delta variant, formerly known as the Indian variant, was considered a “Variant of Interest” by the CDC until this week. The CDC said Friday the delta variant makes up 10% of all new cases in the United States, compared to last week’s total of 6%.
The DPH has confirmed a total of 11 cases of the delta variant to date. The most prevalent variant found in the state so far is the alpha variant, which originated last summer in the United Kingdom, as the DPH has identified 918 alpha cases in Delaware.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, said the delta variant is becoming the dominant strain of the disease worldwide, during a news conference at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva. Studies suggest the delta variant is around 60% more transmissible than the alpha variant, according to the WHO.
The DPH has also identified 44 cases of the gamma variant, a Variant of Concern which originated in Brazil, and 272 cases of the iota variant, a Variant of Interest from New York. There have been nine different variants of COVID-19 found in Delaware.
In aggregate, the variant cases include 1,069 adults ranging in age from 18 to 98 years old, as well as 233 individuals under the age of 18. A total of 981 individuals were from New Castle County, 173 were from Kent County and 149 were from Sussex County.
Seventy-five specimens were sequenced in the DPH lab this past week for variants and 3,127 have been sequenced to date. The DPH encouraged vaccinations, which have been shown to work against the new variants.
“As these variants may be more contagious, it is even more important that individuals who are not fully vaccinated remain vigilant and continue taking the necessary steps to avoid spreading the virus,” the DPH said in a statement. “The science is clear that the vaccines are extremely safe and effective — and Delawareans who are fully vaccinated have significant protection from COVID-19 infection and serious illness. We would encourage all Delawareans to get vaccinated.”
Delaware is at 68.6% of adults with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC’s vaccine tracker. This percentage differs from percentages on the DPH’s tracker because it includes Delawareans who have received their vaccines out of state, plus vaccinations Dover Air Force Base and Veterans Affairs, who do not report data to the DPH.
To date, the DPH has reported 423,804 Delawareans who are fully vaccinated. Of those, there have been 383 breakthrough cases of COVID-19, less 0.1% of those fully vaccinated.
The DPH said a breakthrough case is “defined as testing positive for COVID-19 after an individual has been fully vaccinated for two weeks or more – although it does not mean that the infection actually occurred after vaccination.”