“Delta is dominant and it is the culprit,” said Ohio’s chief medical officer, referencing a surge of COVID-19 cases across the state.
Alongside Gov. Mike DeWine Friday morning, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the delta variant — the most contagious coronavirus mutant so far in the pandemic — is by far the most dominant strain in Ohio and will continue to kill people until more people get vaccinated.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen sharply over the past few weeks, with the delta variant now accounting for more than 86% of cases in the state.
“Delta spreads like wildfire. And it seeks out anybody that’s unvaccinated,” Vanderhoff said.
The good news? Vanderhoff said the three available vaccines are largely effective, making the battle against the strain one mainly threatening the unvaccinated.
“The delta variant has created two Ohios: One that is vaccinated and very well protected, and another Ohio that is vulnerable to the ravages of the delta variant,” Vanderhoff said.
Ohio Department of Health graphics lay out grim statistics, showing a sharp disparity in hospitalizations between those vaccinated and unvaccinated.
Of the 18,662 total Ohio hospitalizations reported since Jan. 1 of this year, 18,367 patients were not fully vaccinated — around 98.4% of hospitalized patients.
Just over 1% of those hospitalized — 295 of them — were fully vaccinated.
Some breakthrough cases with mild or no symptoms were always expected since the vaccines were designed to prevent serious illness.
“We are really at a new stage in this pandemic,” Gov. DeWine said Friday, again encouraging those unvaccinated — and most vulnerable — to get a shot. “The name of the game today is vaccines. This is how we win.”
It’s not yet clear if the delta variant makes people sicker. But experts say it spreads more easily because of mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies.
The delta, first detected in India, has quickly become dominant wherever it has landed, including the U.S.
Viruses constantly mutate, and most changes aren’t concerning. But the worry is that unchecked spread could fuel mutations and produce a variant that’s even more contagious, causes more severe illness or evades the protection that vaccines provide.
Full story: Wltw