ABILENE Texas(KTAB/KRBC) – The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has spread worldwide and has now been reported in all 50 states.
“For those that don’t know, that’s the mutated version of the coronavirus that caused the very large devastating outbreak in India,” says Dr. Annie Drachenberg of the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District.
According to the World Health Organization, the Delta variant is a “Variant of concern,” meaning that of all the mutations to be found, Delta is the most transmissible and can result in more severe illness.
Though there are no reported cases in Taylor County as of yet, the rate at which the variant has spread in Texas has local public health officials taking note.
“It’s the same rate that was in India, doubling every two weeks, so that’s another concern,” said Annette Lerma of the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District.
According to Dr. Drachenberg, mutations mainly come about in under-vaccinated communities.
“In places where some are vaccinated but most aren’t, the virus has enough hosts to be able to work amongst that community that it might eventually find a way around those vaccinated individuals as well,” Drachenberg stated.
But this mutation and survival can be halted by another familiar term: herd immunity, in which at least 70% of a community has received their vaccination.
In effect, this takes the host bodies away from the virus so that it has no place to mutate, much less survive.
“It doesn’t survive long in those situations, or at all,” says Drachenberg. “It’s the reason we don’t see polio anymore, at least here in America.”
As of July, 8, 67% of the United States is vaccinated. That number drops to 58% for the State of Texas, and only 43% in Taylor County.
“The Delta variant is spreading faster than we’re getting vaccinated in Taylor County,” Drachenberg said.
Both Drachenberg and Lerma are hopeful for increased vaccination rates to come soon.
“I think that people are feeling good about getting back out there, but that does not mean that it’s over, and the way that we can head this off is to make sure that we get those who are willing to be vaccinated, vaccinated,” says Lerma.
Some Abilene residents, like Jordan Anderson, say a lack of confidence in the vaccine is why they have not taken the shot yet.
“I’m not entirely sure about it just because it came up so fast,” said Anderson.
Though Dr. Drachenberg draws a distinction between a rushed product and and expedited one.
“It’s not that the vaccine was a different process, it was just a faster process, and that’s all because everything else was moved aside because of the urgency,” says Drachenberg.