More than 60 cases of the new Delta-plus variant have been detected in the San Francisco-Bay area as coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the country.
According to the Santa Clara Public Health Department, there were 64 reported cases of the new COVID strain detected in the county as of August 5.
The new strain, an off-shoot of the highly-transmissible Delta variant, is thought to be more contagious than its predecessor, but is still not the most common variant in the area – with more than 700 cases of the alpha variant reported.
‘The County of Santa Clara is currently tracking the Delta variant and the “Delta plus” variants on our dashboard,’ county officials told CBS San Francisco, adding ‘there is currently not enough information on these particular variants to indicate whether they may be more concerning than the original Delta variant.’
‘Having additional variants is going to be expected with any virus,’ Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of global health and infectious diseases at Stanford University School of Medicine told the local CBS affiliate.
‘The fact there’s a Delta plus doesn’t mean this is going to be any better or worse,’ she said. ‘At this point, we just don’t know.’
Coronavirus cases in the San Francisco Bay Area have risen in recent weeks. In this picture, a staff member at a Chinese hospital in San Francisco offers a man a facemask
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at University of California San Francisco, told CBS that he believes the Delta-plus variant could be as bad as the Delta variant
As of August 5, there were 64 reported cases of the Delta-plus variant, known as AY.1, in Santa Clara County
The Delta-plus variant was first detected in Europe back in March, according to KRON, and doctors believe it is more transmissible than the original Delta variant, and could latch onto lung cells more easily.
‘We believe that its at least as bad as Delta,’ Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at University of California San Francisco, told CBS. ‘We don’t know if it’s even worse than Delta yet.’
‘When I say worse, we think about, number one: Is it more transmissible? Number two, does it evade vaccines? And number three, does it make you sicker?’
The original Delta variant is thought to be more transmissible than the common cold, and seems to affect younger generations more than its predecessors, according to Popular Science Magazine.
It is the most common variant in the United States.
The Delta-plus variant, meanwhile, is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant, Popular Science reports, meaning that it is closely related to the Delta variant and likely evolved from it.
It has spread to more than a dozen countries since it was first detected, with some experts believing it is even more transmissible than the original Delta variant, though more research is needed to confirm it.
Nearly all of the hospitalizations and deaths with the variants are among those who are unvaccinated, Popular Science reports, and now several health experts in the Bay Area are urging people to get vaccinated as eight counties in the area have reinstated their mask mandates.
‘Delta-plus is not the end of the story,’ Chin-Hong said. ‘Until more of us get vaccinated, we are going to have these repots of other Greek letters and combinations of Greek letters – we might even run out of the Greek alphabet.
‘It sounds like a broken record,’ he said, ‘but we’re going to see these things pop up until more of us are vaccinated to kick them out of our communities.’
Eight counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have now reinstated their indoor mask mandates
The county has a high vaccination rate, with 79.3 percent of residents being fully vaccinated
Santa Clara county reports a seven-day rolling average of 254 new cases, the majority of which are among the unvaccinated minority.
More than 84 percent of residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 79.3 percent have completed their vaccinations.
The state, meanwhile, saw 14,402 new cases on August 5, with 37 deaths, while the country saw 120,173 new cases with a total of 700 new deaths.
There have been more than 35 million new cases reported over the past month, with 613,658 total deaths, as 58.4 percent of all eligible Americans received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and just half of all eligible Americans are fully vaccinated.