The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to reclassify the highly contagious COVID-19 strain that emerged from India as a “variant of concern.”
The so-called Delta strain, B1.617.2, will be listed by the agency as a “variant of concern” on Tuesday due to “mounting evidence” that it has a mutation that makes it more transmissible and causes more severe cases compared to other variants, Fox News reported.
Food and Drug Administration head Scott Gottlieb said the variant accounts for about 10 percent of infections currently in the US, but cases have been on the rise.
“It’s doubling every two weeks. So it’s probably going to become the dominant strain here in the United States,” Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Gottlieb, however, said mRNA-based vaccines such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s have proven to be about 88 percent effective against the Delta strain.
“The mRNA vaccine seems to be highly effective, two doses of that vaccine against this variant,” he said.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not approved in the US, and the Johnson & Johnson shot also appeared to offer 60 percent protection against infection by the variant, Gottlieb said.
“So we have the tools to control this and defeat it. We just need to use those tools,” he said.
“I think in parts of the country where you have less vaccination, particularly in parts of the South, where you have some cities where vaccination rates are low, there’s a risk that you could see outbreaks with this new variant,” he added.