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'A Pandemic Within A Pandemic': Expert Urges People To Get Vaccine To Combat New Delta Variant

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San Antonio's Metropolitan Health District is administering COVID-19 vaccines at Fiesta events to try to increase accessibility.
Dominic Anthony Walsh
/
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio's Metropolitan Health District is administering COVID-19 vaccines at Fiesta events to try to increase accessibility.

The Fiesta festival in San Antonio. Juneteenth. Pride celebrations. Graduations. People are out and about again as they get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. But an increasing number of cases of the delta variant in the United States has many experts urging caution.

The delta variant has been found in at least 85 countries and is responsible for at least 20% of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. It is expected to overtake the Alpha variant, B.1.1.7., as the dominant strain in the U.S. sometime this summer.

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Dr. Ebony J. Hilton said the Delta variant has the potential to create a "pandemic within a pandemic" in the United States.

Delta is 60 times more transmissible than the Alpha variant, with was already much more transmissible than the strain of the coronavirus that was dominant early in the pandemic. This presents an urgent threat to unvaccinated populations everywhere.

Already, we’re starting to see delta-driven surges in states with lower vaccination rates. As of June 27, COVID-19 cases in Missouri were up by 49% or 14 days and in Oklahoma cases spiked by more than 60% over 14 days, according to the New York Times. Only 38% of the population is vaccinated in both states.

Dr. Ebony J. Hilton is a critical care doctor, anesthesiologist, and associate professor of both at the University of Virginia. She's also a co-founder and the medical director at GOODSTOCK Consulting.

For weeks, she has warned about the danger posed by the delta variant. She is deeply concerned it will cause outbreaks in unvaccinated populations across the country, what she calls a pandemic within a pandemic.

In this week's Petrie Dish, host Bonnie Petrie talks with Dr. Hilton about the delta variant, what a pandemic within a pandemic might look like in the United States, and what we can do to prevent it.

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Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@TPR.org and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie