MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Huntsville area leaders gave an update on the state of COVID-19 in the county.
Dr. Pam Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center, provided updated vaccination numbers for some counties in north Alabama.
Hudson said in Madison County that upwards of 50 percent of residents have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and about 70 percent of residents 65-years and older have gotten vaccinated.
Neil Lamb, a geneticist at HudsonAlpha, spoke at Wednesday’s briefing about the Delta variant. He painted a clearer picture of what we’re up against.
“This version of the virus contains genetic changes in its instruction that make it better at infecting human cells. It latches and binds to human cells much more effectively,” Lamb said.
Lamb also explained those cells infected with the Delta variant produce a higher level of virus in the body.
“So you may have heard that people who are infected with the Delta variant may have 100 to 1000 times higher level of virus in their respiratory system. This means that someone who’s infected with Delta is shedding a significant amount of virus when they breathe, sing, cough, talk, yell,” Lamb added.
Lamb said this is the reason masking and distancing are more important than ever.
Lamb added that studies have shown a minor decrease in protection against infection in vaccinated individuals and this variant could be one of the biggest reasons why.
It’s possible that the drop in protection against infection from the vaccines is simply because Delta is so much more infectious and it overwhelms the body’s initial immune response.
“Viruses, change their genetic code on a regular basis, it’s a part of the process of evolution so we should expect that, we will continue to see additional variants arise,” Lamb explained. “The key is, are those variants, unimportant, are those variants, something that increases their transmissibility, their ability to spread, or decreases their the effectiveness of our immunity.”
Lamb said those are questions we don’t have the answers to, yet. Right now, vaccination is the only way to slow things down.
The full COVId-19 briefing can be watched below:
Huntsville-Madison County will host the next briefing on Wednesday, September 1st.