Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday said the increasing prevalence of the fast-moving “Delta” strain of the coronavirus underscores the need for all Americans to get vaccinated.
The strain first detected in India has become dominant in the U.K., accounting for 60% of cases and replacing the B.1.1.7 strain that bedeviled the Brits earlier in the year.
“It is replacing the B.1.1.7,” Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a White House COVID-19 briefing. “We cannot let that happen in the United States.”
As it stands, the Delta strain accounts for 6% of known cases in the U.S., though the share is undoubtedly higher because the U.S. only sequences a tiny fraction of known cases.
The doctor said it also important for people to get both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, citing increased protection against the variant.
National Institutes of Health data show two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are 88% protective against the Delta strain but one dose was only 33% effective.
“If you’ve had your first dose, make sure you get that second dose. And for those who have been not vaccinated yet, please get vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci said.
About 52% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 42% is fully vaccinated, according to federal data.