COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina’s lead health agency is again calling for residents to get vaccinated amid the spread of a new COVID-19 variant known as ‘Delta’.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously announced the COVID-19 B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant has been classified as a “variant of concern,” meaning there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility and health risk.
The Delta variant, which was first identified in India, carries a higher rate of transmission and a greater chance of severe disease than other COVID-19 variants.
Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control say four confirmed cases of the variant has been discovered in the state.
They say it’s important to note Delta variant testing is not a routine part of their COVID-19 testing. “Rather, randomly selective positive samples are tested via whole genome sequencing in labs,” DHEC said.
That means there are likely other undetected cases of the variant in South Carolina.
“In South Carolina, only 17,000 South Carolinians age 20-24 have received at least one shot, which is by far the lowest vaccination number for any eligible age group in the state. We need to change that,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public Health Director. “The Delta variant especially can be dangerous even for this age group. In addition, unvaccinated young adults could carry the variant and pass it to their parents, grandparents, and other vulnerable people in our communities.”
DHEC says complete vaccination is the number one way to stifle the impact of the Delta variant.
The health threats due to variants significantly reduce when people get their vaccination,” said Traxler. “We understand COVID-19 vaccination comes with questions and concerns. We strongly urge all eligible folks to become educated with science-based, accurate facts and to make the decision to get these life-saving doses. If more people are not vaccinated and the virus is allowed to continue to spread, it could mutate further to the point of making the vaccines less effective, which we absolutely do not want.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are approximately 33 percent effective against the Delta variant if a person has only received one of the two doses of the shots but 88 percent effective if a person has received both doses of the vaccine.
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England’s national public health organization has reported that Pfizer-BioNTech is 96 percent effective against hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant.