Marion County health officials, local doctors concerned about new ‘Delta variant’

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INDIANAPOLIS — There is a new coronavirus variant that is impacting young Americans at an alarming rate. It’s called the Delta variant and it has been reported in 60 countries including the U.S. and the U.K.

“The CDC has identified 9 different variants of which four or five they call ‘variants of concern’,” said Dr. Ram Yeleti, Chief Physician Executive for Community Health Network. “And out of all of these, the Delta variant — the reason it’s the most concerning is that it’s the most contagious out of all of them.”

Dr. Yeleti said an unvaccinated person is not only more likely to catch the new Delta variant, but also more likely to spread it compared to other variants or even the original COVID-19 strain.

“It has a contagious rate of transmission that’s at least 40% greater than our regular COVID-19 strain,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, Director of the Marion County Public Health Department. “We don’t want it to gain a threshold or a foothold at all.”

That is why Dr. Caine said now is the best time to get vaccinated if you have not already. She said the Delta variant became the dominant strain in Great Britain in just 60 days.

“The critical piece to prevent this is to get vaccinated very quickly,” said Dr. Caine.

According to the state’s vaccine dashboard, only 45.6% of Hoosiers are fully vaccinated. That leaves more than 54% of the population unprotected.

“Really the only way to beat it is by getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Yeleti. “If you’re vaccinated, the Delta variant is not a cause for concern for you.”

Dr. Yeleti said the Delta variant has been confirmed in the region, but not specifically in Indiana. He said that is because only randomized samples are screened for variants.

“It’s a matter of when not if,” said Dr. Yeleti. “It is inevitable that it is going to get everywhere… There’s no reason why we’re going to be shielded.”

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