UAB doctor expresses concern over future COVID-19 variants as Delta strain spreads rapidly

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The White House and Dr. Fauci say the COVID-19 ‘Delta’ variant is the greatest threat to the Nation’s attempt to eliminate the virus. One UAB doctor expects Delta to be the primary strain across Alabama within a few months.

In the U.S., 20 percent of new COVID-19 cases are linked to the Delta variant. However, In the U.K, more than 90 percent of their cases are of the Delta strain.

So far, the Alabama Department of Public Health has reported just under 15 Delta cases.

“The number one variant in Alabama is what we call the original strain. The other ones are increasing to varying degrees. It is anticipated that this Delta variant, because of its increased infectivity, will be our dominant variant in the next few months,” said Dr. Paul Goepfert, an infectious disease professor at UAB. Goepfert is also the Director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic.

Compared to the original COVID-19 strain, research indicates Delta is 60 percent more transmittable. The symptoms are also believed to be more aggressive. According to Dr. Goepfert, In the U.K, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showing 90 percent effectiveness against Delta.

By and large, current vaccines are still holding up against multiple COVID-19 variants. However, Dr. Goepfert has concerns about future variants overcoming our current vaccine options.

“I am very worried that will happen though. We have a situation in many parts of the world, including Alabama, where we have a lot of people that are vaccinated…but yet the rest are not. So what you have now is a situation where you have this virus where it now sees an immune system where it wants to get around,” said Dr. Goepfert.

Dr. Goepfert helped with the development of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. He hopes people take advantage of the current effective vaccines to better fight future variants that are looking for communities that have smaller amounts of protection.

“If you want to do something to help your country, get vaccinated. If on the other hand, you don’t care about your country, then by all means don’t get vaccinated. That’s kind of a strong opinion but that’s exactly what’s going on here,” said Dr. Goepfert.

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