While the country has been seeing a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, the contagious Delta variant is continuing to spread in the U.S., and public health officials warn it could shape to become the catalyst for another outbreak.
For the former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Scott Gottlieb, the Delta variant could become a more widespread problem during fall 2021.
“The question is: Are there enough unvaccinated people that this could get into the population and start spreading more widely? I happen to think it’s unlikely that this is going to be a threat until the fall, perhaps,” he told CNBC.
These comments come as the Delta variant, denoted as B.1.617.2, composes roughly 2.5 percent of the total infections in the U.S.––up from roughly 1.3 percent as of June 2.
It stands to be of particular concern as the United Kingdom may slow its lifting of public health restrictions as the Delta variant surges.
“It does seem to be a more dangerous variant,” Gottlieb added. “That said, two doses of the vaccine seem to be very protective.”
He elaborated to say that the best chance to avoid infection is to get fully vaccinated.
“People who are fully vaccinated, I think, are pretty well protected against this new variant based on the accruing evidence,” he said.
Gottlieb’s concerns were echoed by lead COVID-19 advisor Anthony Fauci, who explained during a White House briefing that the Delta variant is becoming the dominant strain in the UK, and appears to be transmitting quickly among people between the ages of 12 and 20.
“We cannot let that happen in the United States,” Fauci said, emphasizing the need for more people to get the vaccine.
“We want to get to and above the goal of 70 percent of the adult population receiving at least one dose by the fourth of July,” he said.