By now you have heard about all the different strains of COVID-19.  I know you are probably tired of thinking about this but it is important to revisit this as a different strain is sweeping across the country.

When COVID-19 first hit the United States in December 2020 the majority of cases were the Alpha variant.  It was soon followed by the smaller players called Beta and Gamma variants which were first detected in January 2021.  And then there was Delta.  The Delta variant first appeared in the US in March 2021 and is rapidly increasing.  According to the latest data, the Delta variant is the predominant strain in the US.

READ ON to see why the Delta variant is different and how the vaccines are performing against this type of COVID-19 in addition to the new OSHA guidelines that are triggering changes in hospital policies…..

The Delta variant has been linked to a resurgence of COVID-19 in many countries.  It is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant and is twice as likely to lead to hospitalization.  It has theorized that is spreads 225% faster than the original Alpha version.  Delta is a higher risk because it typically produces about 1000 more copies of the virus than the original strain.  In addition it only takes about 4 days to reach detectable levels in a person compared to the Alpha variants six days.  Public health officials aren’t sure if the increase in hospitalizations is due to the pathogenicity of the virus or the fact that it has increased transmissibility with higher viral loads.

The vaccines were originally created to target the Alpha variant and questions have arisen if the vaccine is effective against the mutations that have caused the Delta strain.  Pfizer’s vaccine trials targeting the Alpha strain reported a 95% efficacy in 2020.  Recent data coming from Israel is reporting the Pfizer vaccine is 64% effective at preventing symptomatic/asymptomatic disease due to Delta and 93% effective at preventing hospitalization and death.  A Public Health study in England reported a single dose of AstraZeneca’s or Pfizer’s vaccine reduced a person’s risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms caused by the delta variant by 33%.  A single dose of these vaccines decreased symptoms in the Alpha variant by 50%.  The Astrazeneca vaccine second dose boosted protection up to 60% for Delta (66% for Alpha) and the Pfizer second dose boosted it to 88% (93-95% for Alpha).

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The increase in Delta variant is triggering new rules and regulations by regulatory bodies to try to prevent rapid spread.  OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has recently added rules directed at UNVACCINATED individuals and as a result many hospital systems are now implementing mandatory vaccine policies for their employees.  Here are the new OSHA regulations:

  •      If you are exposed to a COVID-19 positive person and you are unvaccinated (or more than 3 months since recovery from COVID-19) you must quarantine for 14 days or if you test negative at 5 days you may shorten quarantine to 7 days.
  •      Exposure is defined as being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive person for a cumulative of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period without N95/PAPR/CAPR and goggles
  •      Anyone who is not fully vaccinated (this includes persons who are more than 3 months past recovery from COVID-19 and not vaccinated) must wear a N95 mask and eye protection while at work.

The point of this email is not to raise controversy over the policies but to raise awareness of what is triggering these changes.  Be smart and continue to use precautions of distancing in larger groups and other measures.  Even if you have been vaccinated you can get COVID-19 so watch for those mild symptoms and get tested.

To your health,

Laura