New Coronavirus Strains: The highly contagious Delta variant now makes up at least 51.7% of new infections. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: New Coronavirus Strains
“Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are rising in the US after a long decline, federal data showed, providing evidence of the human toll the Delta virus variant is taking on unvaccinated Americans,” Betsy McKay writes for the Wall Street Journal. The highly contagious new strain now makes up at least 51.7% of new infections. Overseas, Israel said on Sunday it will begin offering a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine to adults with weak immune systems. The Delta variant has caused new infections in the country to rise over the past month from single digits to around 450 a day. “A wave of COVID-19 is engulfing Indonesia,” The Economist wrote this past weekend as the “daily number of new infections has grown eight-fold over the past month, hitting a record high of more than 38,000 on July 9th.” The Delta variant now accounts for 90% of cases in the country. And in Belgium, a 90-year-old woman who died after falling ill with COVID-19 was infected with both the Alpha and Beta variants of the coronavirus at the same time. She was unvaccinated. Here’s what both sides are saying about new coronavirus strains, with a focus on the Delta variant.
On The Left
Left-leaning commentators and outlets warn of the dangers of the Delta variant, specifically for those who are unvaccinated. At the same time, they warn against fear mongering, which could deter those who haven’t gotten the shots from getting them and be counter productive.
“The delta variant is sending the world a warning” Megan McArdle, The Washington Post: “Don’t panic, but recent news makes it clear that the novel coronavirus isn’t done with us yet. New data from Israel suggest the effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine declines sharply when it’s pitted against the hyperinfectious delta variant. Last week, more than half of all COVID-19 cases in Israel reportedly occurred in people who were vaccinated; the vaccine appears to prevent only about two-thirds of symptomatic cases. To reiterate: If you’re vaccinated, there’s no need to panic. The Israeli data show a vaccine that’s still 93 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations. … But that doesn’t mean that any of us can be complacent. COVID-19 is not an imaginary problem, as too many on the right seem to believe — nor is it a solved one, as many blue states were hoping. We’re still engaged in a global war against an enemy that will keep seeking new ways to kill us unless we unite to respond with overwhelming force. … So this isn’t a decision you’re making just for yourself. It’s a decision you’re making for other people too. Are you going to hope for the best while COVID-19 spreads? Or are you going to do everything in your power to defeat our common enemy?”
“Delta variant panic could cause more harm than good” Dr. Monica Gandhi, Kyle Hunter MPH, SF Gate: “New fear-based headlines are popping up every day about the SARS-COV-2 delta variant. … Although it might feel like we’ve been here before with other variants, the situation in the context of high vaccination rates is totally different. … COVID-19-related hospitalizations — the original catalyst for the public health emergency in the United States — are increasingly being decoupled from case rates. … [For example] there are about 300 patients requiring ICU-level care for COVID-19 in [all of California] — tragically among the unvaccinated — and hospitalizations are far below any level seen since the start of the pandemic. Therefore, the public health emergency of the pandemic as we knew it has entered a new stage. … We are now in a ‘control’ phase. … This is particularly important as plans for school reopening in the fall reach high gear. The negative health and educational impacts of school closures on children are now abundantly clear. … Messaging heightened anxiety and new masking guidelines around the delta variant also sends a confusing message about vaccines and their effectiveness. … California should message confidence in the vaccines to persuade remaining holdouts and focus on the public health impact of school closures at this time, even in light of the delta variant.”
“The COVID delta variant hints at a bigger problem for America” Dr. Megan Ranney, NBC Opinion: “As this variant has begun to dominate both the news and the genomic sequencing of new COVID-19 infections, Americans’ anxiety has proportionally increased. Some of this worry is deserved. Some of it is overblown. But the variant generally points to a bigger problem about the way Americans will live with coronavirus in the future. Let’s start with the bad news… A single dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Astra-Zeneca vaccines does not sufficiently protect against this variant. … But the good news? The two-dose vaccines remain marvelously effective against this newest variant, as long as you’ve received both shots. … Even as we focus on the short-term dangers caused by variants, we need to be thinking about the longer-term health dangers that result from the United States’ social divisions. … COVID-19 has hardened and worsened such disparities. And the delta variant will make this divide even worse. The same structural divides and inequities that influence every other part of our health also influence who has received a vaccine, who will catch and even die from the delta variant, and who will be exposed to the variants-yet-to-come.”
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators don’t appear to be downplaying the Delta variant and acknowledge that it’s more contagious. However, they point to the fact that, so far, it hasn’t caused a massive spike in hospitalizations or deaths. They urge Americans to get vaccinated and avoid the media sensationalism.
“Don’t buy the hysteria: The Delta variant is actually less dangerous” Editorial Board, New York Post: “On Wednesday, the Delta variant became America’s dominant COVID strain. Yet it’s no cause for panic: The numbers — especially in Britain, which Delta hit hard — show it causes far fewer hospitalizations and deaths, while vaccines remain highly effective against it. … Yes, Delta, first found in India, does appear more contagious than the Alpha variant first found in Britain … But the huge case spike didn’t lead to similar hospitalization or death spikes, so Britain’s back on track to lift regulations July 19. … Similarly: Israel, despite a spike in Delta cases, is seeing deaths in the single digits over the last month. In other words, Delta looks to be less lethal than previous variants, despite media scare stories. … And the vaccines still work well. Public Health England found Pfizer’s vax was 96 percent effective at preventing hospitalization from the Delta variant. An Israeli study found it was 94 percent effective at preventing severe illness. … The only rational response is to work harder to get the holdouts jabbed. … That’s the smart way to keep the country on the road to normalcy, even as the fearmongers try to hold us back.”
“Media fearmongering about the delta variant is harming public health” Robert Schmad, Washington Examiner: “The media love to twist the words of experts to generate fear-induced clickbait. This eternally contemptible practice has been made even worse and normalized with the advent of COVID-19. On June 19, ABC posted an article on its Twitter account with the accompanying caption: ‘The CDC is concerned about the delta variant mutating to a point at which it evades the existing COVID-19 vaccines, Walensky says.’ Except that’s not what Walensky, director of the CDC, said … When asked about the risk that the Delta strain poses to vaccine immunity, Walensky answered that viruses can evolve in such a way that existing vaccines become less effective. In no way did she explicitly state or even imply that this was the case here, that there was imminent danger of delta mutating such that it would render existing remedies ineffective. … Is it possible that the delta strain mutates in such a way that vaccine effectiveness is handicapped? Sure, in theory, that could happen. Is there any evidence to suggest that it’s particularly likely in this case? Nope. … So, ignore ABC, ignore variant alarmism, and get your vaccination.”
“Primed for Panic on the Delta Variant” Jim Geraghty, National Review: “Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, a certain segment of the population has shifted into a mentality where caution is good, more caution is better, and the maximum conceivable caution is best. The progress in vaccinations this year, and the rapid decline in US cases and deaths, almost forced these ultra-cautious to acknowledge things were getting better … But the Delta variant grabbed headlines, giving these anxiety-ridden neurotic folks the excuse to pretend we’re right back in March 2020 again, and everyone who walks down the street without a mask is being wildly irresponsible and is a threat to others’ health. To them, good news is actually bad news – it would require them to end their self-appointed reign of freelance health inspector of strangers. … Fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks. Their bodies already have the antibodies to fight off COVID-19. They may still be at risk of infection, but the virus’ effects on their bodies are extremely likely to be minimal. Full vaccination reduces the odds of severe illness, hospitalization, and death to an extreme long shot. So far, full vaccination provides sufficient protection from all of the variants, including the Delta variant.”
Flag This: New Coronavirus Strains
According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post Poll, three in 10 adults said they have not gotten a coronavirus vaccine, and definitely or probably will not get one. Of this group, 73% believe US officials are exaggerating the risk of the delta variant and 79% think they have little or no risk of getting sick.
The medical community (and the media) now have their eyes on another strain: the Lambda variant, which on June 14, 2021, the WHO declared a “global variant of interest.” Right now, the Lambda iteration is working its way through Peru, which has the highest number of COVID deaths per capita. The variant has also been found in 29 other countries and counting. In May, the WHO decided to use Greek letters to refer to variants first detected in countries like the UK, South Africa, and India “to make discussions easier and remove stigma,” according to the BBC. During 2020’s Atlantic hurricane season, the World Meteorological Organization used nine Greek letters after 21 storm names prepared by the organization had been exhausted. Between the climate and COVID, Greek letters have taken on a more ominous tone over the past year.
Flag Poll: New Coronavirus Strains
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