Story at a glance
- The U.K. is struggling with the Delta COVID-19 variant, and the U.S. isn’t far behind.
- Estimates note that it now comprises roughly 10 percent of all infections in the U.S.
- “I anticipate that is going to be what happens with the Delta strain here,” CDC Director Walensky said.
B.1.617.2, the Delta COVID-19 variant, is making quick rounds across the world, with new estimates suggesting it is becoming increasingly prominent across multiple European countries — a harbinger for the U.S.
The data comes from an analysis conducted by the Financial Times, which used figures collected by a COVID-19 tracking database called Gisaid.
Per its calculations, the Delta variant now composes 96 percent of sequenced COVID-19 infections in Portugal, more than 20 percent of infections in Italy and roughly 16 percent in Belgium.
Further data shows that the Delta variant is spreading comparably within the U.K., accounting for approximately 99 percent of sequenced and genotyped cases, per recent Public Health England data.
The Delta variant is notably more contagious and has proven to lead to more severe illnesses and subsequent hospitalizations.
This spread stands to hinder the reopening efforts European governments are aiming to undertake — and spells future trouble for other countries like the U.S.
“We are in the process of crushing the virus and crushing the pandemic, and we must in no way let the Delta variant get the upper hand,” Olivier Véran, the French health minister, told reporters in Paris.
Véran said that 2 to 4 percent of virus samples currently being analyzed in France are testing positive for the Delta variant. While this seems like a small proportion now, the virus is notably contagious, and could grow.
The Delta variant’s prominence in the U.S. is similarly growing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that it accounted for 2.7 percent of U.S. cases on May 22.
Other reports say that the variant accounted for around 10 percent of all U.S. cases on June 5.
The Financial Times’s analysis estimated that roughly 31 percent of cases in the U.S. can now be attributed to the Delta variant, though officials from the CDC have yet to confirm this.
In late March, however, there were zero Delta variant cases reported.
“You might say this is still low but it is similar to the situation in the UK a few weeks ago,” Véran said regarding the current French genome sequencing data.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told ABC News that the strain is likely to become the most prominent variant in the U.S. over time.
“I anticipate that is going to be what happens with the Delta strain here,” she confirmed.