(KXAN) — The World Health Organization has delivered a grim warning: the fierce coronavirus variant called Delta is zeroing in on Europe — but will the U.S. be next?
While mass vaccinations have translated into sagging COVID-19 case numbers in the U.S., many European nations are behind in getting shots to citizens. Now, WHO Europe regional director Hans Henri Kluge says research suggests the Delta variant may even pose a threat to some vaccinated people, according to The Hill.
Kluge says Delta is able to spread and infect even people who have received their first doses — and it’s now the dominant variant in the United Kingdom. Luckily, data from Public Health England shows having both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech resulted in 88% efficacy against Delta.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 63.7% of American adults have gotten at least one shot.
“The new Delta variant of concern, which shows increased transmissibility and some immune escape, is poised to take hold in the region, while many among vulnerable populations above the age of 60 remain unprotected,” Kluge said on Thursday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to announce a four-week delay in lifting COVID-19 restrictions, according to The New York Times.
Here in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci estimates Delta will end up making up over 6% of all COVID-19 cases, The Hill reports. Last week, the White House chief medical advisor urged unvaccinated Americans to get their shots in anticipation of the variant.
“We cannot let that happen in the United States,” said Fauci, who noted Delta’s mostly hitting U.K. 12-20 year-olds.
In the U.S., 10% of COVID-19 cases are currently Delta variant cases, Scott Gottlieb, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said, according to CNN. He added that the number is doubling every week.
So what’s the risk in the states? It turns out, it’ll depend on where you live.
“I think in parts of the country where you have less vaccination — particularly in parts of the South, where you have some cities where vaccination rates are low — there’s a risk that you could see outbreaks with this new variant,” Gottlieb said.
The CDC reports less than half adults in some southern states have even received one vaccine dose. Meaning Americans in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana may have more to worry about as the variant’s transmission plays out.