Originating in India in late 2020, the Delta variant is even more contagious than earlier variants due to multiple mutations, especially in its spike protein. It is being spread rapidly throughout the U.S. and the world by persons who have not received any of the existing COVID-19 vaccines. As has been true from the beginning, nearly all of the persons being hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Antibodies to the spike protein elicited by current COVID-19 vaccines still protect against the Delta variant after full vaccination, but less strongly than for earlier variants. Consequently, more breakthrough infections than before are being seen in vaccinated persons, and it is not yet known to what extent these infected persons could also transmit the virus to others. Natural selection will favor variants that can multiply in vaccinated as well as unvaccinated persons. Thus, the relative security now enjoyed by fully vaccinated persons is threatened by further mutations enabled by rapid spread of Delta and perhaps further variants in unvaccinated persons. Continued distancing and wearing of masks by everyone in large indoor gatherings, especially in states like Georgia where many people remain unvaccinated, seems prudent to limit airborne spread of this dangerous, constantly mutating virus.
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