Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Friday that the recently-detected COVID-19 delta variant will “probably” become the dominant strain in the United States.
"I think that that's probably going to be the case," Walensky said on ABC News’ "Good Morning America” on Friday.
"When these viruses mutate, they do so with some advantage to the virus. In this case, it is more transmissible," she continued. "It's more transmissible than the alpha variant, or the U.K. variant, that we have here. We saw that quickly become the dominant strain in a period of one or two months, and I anticipate that is going to be what happens with the delta strain here."
Walensky went on to say that the CDC is worried that the delta variant could end up mutating to such a degree that the current Covid-19 vaccines are ineffective at protecting against it.
"That's really what we're actively trying to prevent, which is why we're really encouraging people to get vaccinated," she said.
"I will say, as worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper-transmissibility, our vaccines work. Right now, they are working and they require actually two doses or to be fully vaccinated to work. So I would encourage all Americans to get your first shot and when you're for your second, get your second shot and you'll be protected against this delta variant."
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said in an interview on “GMA” earlier this week that the delta variant "is far more contagious than any variant we have seen throughout this entire pandemic."
He added that "what we are seeing is, while our vaccines seem to generally hold up, we're seeing a few more breakthrough infections."
The CDC chief also noted that the agency’s advisory panel is scheduled to meet next week for an emergency meeting to discuss a link between a COVID-19 vaccination and myocarditis, which has been reported in young people across the country after receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
"We certainly are looking at this carefully," Walensky said. "And we are going to be eager to look at the data during that meeting."
She added that the risk of getting what she described as “mild” conditions is “really quite rare,” and is "overwhelmed by the benefit of getting vaccinated."
"I have three kids and all of mine are vaccinated," Walensky said. "The really most important thing that you need to do is be comfortable as a parent with your choice in making this decision."
She concluded: "If you make an informed decision where you listen to the science around the vaccines, the safety of the vaccines, the overwhelming data we have on the safety of vaccines and how effective they are at preventing severe disease and sickness in your children, I think you'll come down the way I did and vaccinate your children.”
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