The first case in the United States was identified in March, and by early July, it made up more than half of cases tested in the country. It now makes up 83% of US cases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now, it’s spread to all 50 US states “This is a dramatic increase, up from 50% for the week of July 3,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a Senate committee hearing Tuesday.
It was identified in the United Kingdom soon after. It rapidly became the dominant variant, overwhelming the country’s health care system.
“This is the most contagious version of the virus we have seen throughout the whole pandemic,” said Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “It’s really very contagious.” The Delta strain was first identified in India in December 2020.
How is the virus spreading so rapidly? One study suggests the Delta variant may transmit faster than other strains because it makes more copies of itself inside our bodies at a faster rate. When scientists in China compared dozens of cases of delta to strains from early in the pandemic, they found that patients with the Delta variant had viral loads that were 1,260 times higher. The strain continues to spread rapidly
That’s behind a surge, mainly among unvaccinated people in the country — the average of new daily cases this week is up 55% from last week, with cases rising in 46 states as of Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations are up 52% over the past 14 days. The Delta variant has been found in all 50 US states.
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