Public Health Gives An Update On Virus, Variant


Last updated 7/7/2021 at 2:55pm

On Wednesday, Transylvania Public Health reported one additional case of COVID-19 in the past week, for a total of 2,393 cases and 33 deaths among county residents. As of Wednesday, two county residents were in isolation for COVID-19.

While Western North Carolina is currently seeing low numbers of COVID-19 cases, most of the state continues to experience substantial or moderate community spread, which will likely continue until vaccination rates increase.

More than 99% of new cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina are among people who have not been vaccinated.

Areas with low vaccination rates have seen increased cases, hospital-izations, and deaths. In addition to getting vaccinated, people who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine should continue to wear a mask indoors, wait at least 6 feet from others, and wash their hands often to help slow the spread of this virus in their communities.

Delta Variant

Public health officials are concerned about increased spread of the Delta variant in the U.S., which now accounts for an estimated 51 percent of all COVID-19 cases nationwide and is causing up to 80 percent of new cases in some Midwestern and Western states.

The Delta variant is more contagious than other variants and may lead to more serious illness. Early studies from the U.K. suggest a possible increased risk of hospitalization among people infected with the Delta variant and found that younger age groups are more likely to be infected. Symptoms may be somewhat different compared to the original COVID-19 virus, with fewer people reporting cough and loss of smell; the most common symptoms in areas where the Delta variant is dominant include headache, sore throat, runny nose and fever.

The best protection against the Delta COVID-19 variant continues to be vaccination. This variant is spreading most rapidly in areas with low vaccination rates, and research is showing that the current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant.

Recent studies in several countries showed between 79 and 88 percent protection after two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. On Monday, Israel released a study showing 64 percent effectiveness against all COVID-19 infections (down from 95 percent in May before the Delta variant was dominant) and about 93 percent effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization.

Last week, Moderna announced study results that found its vaccine to protect against all current COVID-19 variants, including Delta, although antibody response to the Delta strain was two times weaker than to the original COVID-19 strain.

Similarly, Johnson & Johnson announced last week that its one-dose vaccine offers strong protection against the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus based on antibody and immune system response in laboratory studies.

Transylvania Public Health continues to offer in-office COVID-19 vaccinations each week. Call 884-4007 for more information.


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