Not All the News on the Delta Variant Is Grim

It's more contagious but cases aren't more severe, notes 'New York Times'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2021 12:03 PM CDT
Not All the News on the Delta Variant Is Grim
A health worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Bangkok on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

COVID cases in the US and around the world are rising again, thanks largely to the fast-spreading delta variant. But in the New York Times, David Leonhardt offers up a counterpoint to the doom-and-gloom coverage. While delta is indeed more contagious than previous variants, preliminary data suggest it doesn't cause more severe cases. Its threat might be summed up in a quote from Dr. Rebecca Wurtz of the University of Minnesota. "As far as anyone can tell, delta isn't more dangerous in the sense that it causes worse disease," she says. "It's a sneaky opportunist, not a mayhem man." Related coverage:

  • Numbers: The piece notes that England provides an example. Delta has been in wide circulation for a couple of months, leading to a spike in cases. However, the rates of hospitalization and deaths aren't rising. All this could change, but until then, Leonhardt cautions against sloppy news reports that equate contagiousness with severity.

  • Breakthrough cases: A story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal illustrates delta's ability to spread. Eleven staffers of Sunrise Hospital contracted COVID after attending a party last month, and at least 10 got the delta variant. Eight of the staffers had been fully vaccinated, and two others had received one of two doses. However, underscoring the point made by Leonhardt, none of them required hospitalization, per the Guardian, and all have recovered.
  • Another: Entertainment reporter Catt Sadler says she also contracted the delta variant despite being fully vaccinated. The 46-year-old thought she'd be safe while caring for a person who came down with COVID, per People. "Delta is relentless," she says on Instagram. She's been recuperating at home while suffering fever, headaches, and fatigue.
  • The speed: Stats at ABC News show how fast delta is spreading in the US. The variant accounted for 58% of new cases from June 20 through July 3, up from 31% two weeks earlier, according to the CDC. In late May, the figure was 3%.
  • States: CNN reports that 46 states are reporting case rates at least 10% higher than the previous week. In 31 states, the percentage increase was at least 50%. And the situation is worst where vaccination rates are low. Missouri, for example, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, along with one of the worst delta outbreaks.
(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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