By Stephanie Innes & Alison Steinbach | Arizona Republic
The Delta variant, likely the most contagious version of the new coronavirus, is in Arizona and experts predict it will increase in prevalence among unvaccinated people here.
Forty-nine cases of the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 had been identified in the state as of Monday, according to a sequencing dashboard maintained by the Arizona-based nonprofit Translational Genomics Research Institute.
“What we know about this particular variant is that it is probably the fastest-spreading of all the different variants or strains of this virus that are out there,” said Dr. David Engelthaler, director of TGen’s infectious-disease branch.
“It’s just so easily spread from person to person.”
The Delta variant of COVID-19 was first identified in India and is known as B.167.2.
Delta is causing a spike in COVID-19 infections among unvaccinated people in England, where it has become the dominant variant of the new coronavirus. The recent spike in infections in England has delayed that country’s re-opening.
The variant is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls a “variant of concern,” meaning it poses a higher-than-average risk of transmissibility or disease, a worry that President Joe Biden raised last week during a news briefing.
“People getting seriously ill and being hospitalized due to COVID-19 are those who have not been fully vaccinated,” Biden said. “The new variant will leave unvaccinated people even more vulnerable than they were a month ago.”
Here are five things Arizonans need to know about the Delta variant: