Delta is likely to infect “large numbers” of unvaccinated people, he said.
Will it cause a new surge?
In the United States, the pandemic is waning, with fewer cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The seven-day case average, approximately 10,350 per day, is the lowest since March 2020, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the C.D.C., at a press conference on Tuesday. “These figures show the incredible progress we’ve made against a formidable foe,” she said.
So, while Delta may account for a growing percentage of cases, it is unclear whether this will increase the total number of cases.
“I don’t think we’ll see another big, national surge in the United States because we have enough vaccination,” Dr. Osterholm said.
Nonetheless, vaccination rates are highly uneven, with lower rates in certain states and demographic groups. Delta could exacerbate outbreaks in the South, where vaccination rates are low, or among young people, who are less likely to be immunised than their elders.
“In areas where there is still a lot of susceptibility to the virus, it opens the door for cases to start rising again,” said Justin Lessler, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University. “However, even in those states, and certainly nationally, we are unlikely to return to the levels seen last winter.”
Nonetheless, he believes it may delay our exit from the pandemic. “It keeps the doldrums going,” he said.
What can I do?
Obtain a vaccination. If you are already immunised, encourage your family, friends, and neighbours to get immunised as well. Vaccination is likely to slow the spread of all variants and reduce the likelihood of the emergence of new, more dangerous variants.