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Things you need to know about delta variant

Things you need to know about delta variant

How Contagious Is the Covid 19 Delta Variant?

The Covid-19 Delta variant is highly transmissible. People infected with the Delta variant have higher levels of the virus, and scientists say that the increased contagiousness of the delta variant means that we need to update our knowledge on the risks of exposure.  Since those infected with the Delta variant have higher levels of the virus compared to those with previous Covid strains, the previously held conventional wisdom that it takes fifteen minutes of close contact with someone before you get infected no longer applies.

How does the Delta variant change our exposure risk?

Vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk of contracting Covid, though doctors advise that those who are already vaccinated should still take extra precautions. The numerous existing vaccines are not as effective at preventing Delta variant infections as compared to the earlier strains of Covid, but the vaccines still protect infected people against disease and death.

For those who are unvaccinated, the Delta variant changes the conventional wisdom that someone is most at risk of infection after close contact with an infected person for fifteen minutes. With the Delta variant, scientist say infection can happen after five minutes of close contact. The Delta variant may even infect an unvaccinated person with a very short exposure in an enclosed space, for example one or two minutes in an elevator or a small room. This means that the Delta variant carries several times the risk of exposure compared to older strains, and unvaccinated people are more vulnerable to the Delta variant than those who are already vaccinated.

Should I wear a mask even after vaccination?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that vaccinated people in parts of the country where transmission is considered high to start wearing masks again, as they are effective against delta variant infection. About 46% of US counties are labeled high transmission areas, and about 17% of US counties are labeled as having substantial transmission. Covid cases are sharply rising in US states where below half the population is vaccinated, including the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Missouri. There still exists a low risk of developing illness from Covid even after having full vaccination. But this risk can be minimized by wearing a mask, especially indoors and in crowded public places. Masks reduce the risk of getting a milder infection, and it also decreases the risk of transmitting the virus forward.

Due to rapid spread of the Delta variant across the country, the guidance on using masks has changed significantly. Vaccinated people should still wear masks indoors and in areas with substantial or high transmission, and unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks as they are the ones most susceptible. The new guidelines require all residents to wear masks in indoor public settings due to a sharp rise in Covid cases due to the Delta variant. Basically everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, should wear masks indoors.

Wearing N95 mask

The importance of wearing masks

Masks are of extreme importance, and they are effective against delta variant infection.  The amount of the Delta variant virus in people’s noses is about 1000 times higher compared to the amount of the initial variant. This means there is more of the Delta variant being spread, and it is also much more easily transmitted compared to previous strains. It is also very important to note that the Delta variant may not be the last variant, and new variant may arise in the future due in large part on the number of still unvaccinated people. The easiest way to prevent infection is to wear masks, whether they are cloth masks, surgical face masks, N95 masks, or KN95 masks.

Masks work in two important ways: For infected persons, the mask filters the virus coming out of their mouth and their nose, so it limits the amount of virus an infected person puts out to the surrounding air. For those who are not infected, and then the virus that is in the surrounding air has to go through the mask. The mask filters the virus so it cannot enter through the nose and mouth. While wearing a good cloth mask may also work - to be very safe against Covid and especially the Delta variant, it is advised to wear either surgical face masks, N95 masks, or KN95 masks.

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