(CNN) — The most dangerous and most transmissible delta variant has spread to nearly every state in the US, fueling concern among health experts about potential covid-19 spikes in the fall.
The variant was first identified in India and now the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider it a worrisome variant, meaning that scientists believe it can spread more easily or cause more serious disease.
The delta variant now accounts for about 1 in 5 new coronavirus infections in the U.S., the CDC said. And since more than half the population is not yet fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, health experts and officials are concerned that regions with little protection against the virus could experience sudden increases in the fall and winter.
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS that in terms of delta spread, the United States is about a month or two behind the United Kingdom, a country that has been dealing with large numbers of cases despite vaccination rates. relatively high. For countries like these, the World Health Organization warned last week that even those who are fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks.
Already in Los Angeles County, the rate of spread of this variant has motivated officials to reestablish the guide for use of masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
Calling it a “precautionary measure,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued the voluntary mask guide on Monday, saying it was necessary until health officials can “better understand how and among whom the variant is spreading. delta”.
Experts have said the evidence points to vaccines like Moderna’s and Pfizer / BioNTech’s providing high amounts of protection against the variant, but Los Angeles Public Director Barbara Ferrer said it’s unclear what the future of the vaccine will be. variant as it becomes more prevalent.
But not all local leaders are reinstating preventive guidance at this time.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced Monday that masks will not be required in school buildings across the state.
With more than two months left for schools to open, Murphy noted that these rules could change depending on how the virus spreads and what the CDC decides.
This is our best sense of what back to school looks like. It’s much more than an educated guess, “Murphy said.
Act now to fully vaccinate your child before the new school year
For parents concerned about the possibility of regional variant spikes in the fall, now is the time to vaccinate minors for school.
Many large school systems, including Atlanta; Fort Myers, Florida; Flagstaff, Arizona; and the entire state of Hawaii, start school in the first two weeks of August.
It takes five weeks to be fully vaccinated with Pfizer’s vaccine, the only one licensed for teens ages 12 to 17. That means, for example, Atlanta students must receive their first vaccination by July 1 to be fully vaccinated on the first day of school on August 5.
The Pfizer vaccine is given in two doses spaced three weeks apart. After the second dose, it takes two weeks for someone to be considered fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
As of June 24, nearly 1 in 5 children ages 12 to 15 were fully vaccinated and nearly 1 in 3 teens ages 16 and 17 were fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Some vaccines offer years of protection, study shows
Another question that experts have been looking to answer as variants spread: How long does vaccine protection last?
A new study suggests that, unlike flu vaccines that need an annual booster, the two-dose Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine should sustain the immune response for years.
The human body produces components of the immune system called antibodies to attack and neutralize an invader such as a virus. But these die over time. To ensure a long-term response, the body needs to maintain the ability to produce more antibodies that can specifically respond to certain viruses or bacteria as needed. It does this with B cells.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that people who received both doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine had small factories called germ centers that produce B cells that should specifically recognize the coronavirus, meaning there is a possibility of long-lasting protection, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
The CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee has debated potential booster vaccines, as experts have been bracing for the possibility that immunity is rapidly diminishing or variants eluding the protection of current vaccines.
With officials still struggling to motivate the faltering population to get vaccinated so the US can cross the threshold necessary to control community spread, concern has grown that mobilizing reinforcements would add another challenge.
And for those who want protection but fear potential negative side effects, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that there is no evidence that covid-19 vaccines affect fertility and benefits. Getting the vaccine in pregnant women outweighs the risks.
Fauci noted that “tens and tens and tens of thousands of people” have received the vaccine during pregnancy and before becoming pregnant.
It’s clear that Covid-19 can be especially dangerous during pregnancy, she said at an online event hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The mother can have an adverse pregnancy event, as can the fetus,” he said. “The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated.”
CNN’s Alexandra Meeks, Christina Bowllan, Naomi Thomas, Maggie Fox, Elizabeth Cohen, and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism