‘This is actually a disease of the unvaccinated largely’ Doctors say the Delta variant is spreading faster than vaccinations


DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Doctors say 90% of all COVID-19 cases in the Lowcountry are the Delta variant, but what exactly is the difference?

Local health professionals say there are some similarities and differences between other variants.

“Now, you have a choice. You can either vaccinate, decrease your chances of dying or not and have a high risk of dying from the disease. That is the difference. There’s a choice now. You can choose to mitigate your risk of death,” said Dr. Robert Oliverio who is the Chief Medical Officer for Ambulatory Care and Population Health at Roper St. Francis.

Roper St. Francis is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“I could count the number of cases back in May on one hand. Now I’ve got to get, you know, 10 people together,” said Dr. Oliverio.

The hospital is reporting a 27-percent increase in COVID-19 inpatients compared to a week ago. Most of these cases are what’s called the Delta variant.

“It can make the virus much more lethal; you know, kill or make people sicker or it can make it more infective,” said Dr. Oliverio.

Compared to the original strand that on average could infect three people, this variant – one person with COVID – can infect up to six people: “and that’s essentially what the Delta variant has done,” Dr. Oliverio said.

He says the Delta variant can not only spread faster but make you sicker.

“Now we’re seeing 30–55-year-olds who are coming in intubated, needing lots of oxygen, you know, sick, sick, sick people and those are the ones that are dying, and the reason is they’re not vaccinated,” said Dr. Oliverio.

But if you are vaccinated doctors say your chances of getting sick could significantly decrease.

“We’re seeing 80-year-old people coming in with COVID, you know with cancer and COVID, but they’re going home. Those people would have died last year. The only reason they’re not dead now is that they were vaccinated,” said Dr. Oliverio.

Doctors say the new variant, known as Lambda, could be spreading and there is a concern for the future.

“85 to 90 percent of people have to be vaccinated in order to keep this from happening again, so can I see in the future if nothing else changes another December and January where cases spike up again? Absolutely. That’s quite a possibility because until we get 90% of people in this community vaccinated, we will still see variants,” said Dr. Oliverio.

For more information on where you can be tested for COVID-19 click here.

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