The “Delta” variant of the COVID-19 virus is mutating and now in more than 80 countries, including the United States, the World Health Organization reported.
Listed as a “Variant of Concern’” in late May, the mutant strain is believed to have come from India and has since spread to at least 80 other countries.
According to the WHO, a “variant of Concern” means that the strain can “increase transmission or increase its virulence or decrease the effectiveness of public health and social measures, available diagnostics, and therapeutics.”
The Delta strain is just one of 11 mutations identified by the WHO, seven of which, are not currently considered as dangerous, according to the organization.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also listed the Delta variant as a “Variant of Concern.”
According to the CDC, these variants are being “closely monitored and characterized by federal agencies.”
Despite the variations, the WHO believes that the current vaccines will provide “at least some protection” against the variants because they “elicit a broad immune response involving a range of antibodies and cells.”
Changes to the virus or mutations should not render the vaccines completely ineffective, but in case they are, they could be modified to better fight them off, according to the WHO.
The organization has been tracking mutations of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic and includes a dedicated team to its evolution which quickly detects changes and assesses its impact.
The Delta variant is responsible for about 2.7 percent of new cases in the United States between May 9-22, according to the CDC.
The organization is reporting that currently there are 33,315.272 cases and 597,965 deaths from the virus in the United States.
The percentage of adults who have taken at least one dose of the three available vaccinations is 64.7.
The seven-day moving average for deaths is 285 as of June 15, the CDC reported.
According to the WHO, the best way to slow the spread of variants is to stop the spread of the virus at the source.
Continuing to use masks, wash hands, physically distance, avoid crowded locations and get vaccinated are the best practices to reduce transmission which will also slow the mutations, according to the WHO.
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