In recent weeks, the arrival of the delta variant in Nevada has caused public concern. On June 2, Washoe County announced the first case of this variant of COVID-19, and to date, a total of 65 cases and two deaths have been reported in the area, a number that is expected to continue to rise.
Will we go back to wearing masks? Can you get infected if you have already been vaccinated? In an interview with Noticiero Móvil, Renown Hospital internist and professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, Elieth Martinez, answered some of the questions about this new variant of the coronavirus.
What is a variant?
“We’ve heard different names for variants from different countries, but basically it’s the virus changing through a mutation, and when the virus has one or more mutations, that’s a variant. A change to the original virus,” said Dr. Martinez.
The delta variant
Or also called B.1.617.2, is a variant of the coronavirus that has been found in more than 80 countries since it was detected in December 2020 in India. The first case of the delta variant in Washoe County was reported on June 2, and in Nevada on April 26 of this year.
“This variant is more aggressive and easier to transmit from person to person, and we are also concerned that this variant may decrease the effectiveness of some vaccines,” the internist explained.
The symptoms, according to the doctor, are the same as those of the other COVID-19 mutations, including fever, tiredness and shortness of breath; however, she says that it is “even more contagious.”
Who is most affected?
Early in the pandemic, protecting the elderly and those with weak immune systems was a priority, however, the scenario has reversed.
“Now the most affected are young people and adults who are not yet vaccinated. We urge most adults who have doubts about the vaccine to get it as soon as possible,” she said.
Should a vaccinated person wear a mask to protect themselves from the delta variant?
“If a person is already vaccinated, there is no need to worry, the vaccines are highly effective, but it is also important to know that they are not 100% effective. It is possible for a vaccinated person exposed to the delta variant to have very minimal symptoms but still be able to transmit the virus to others.
I think in the next few weeks, we are going to see some changes with respect to the use of masks. For example, in Los Angeles County they are recommending its use even if you are vaccinated, now that the delta variant has arrived.
Also, it is important to complete the two doses of the vaccine, if one has only one dose and is exposed to a lot of people or enclosed areas, there is still a risk.
“The person is protected two weeks after the second dose,” reminded Dr. Martinez.
A third vaccine
Regarding a possible “booster” to reinforce the two doses, Dr. Martinez indicated that “there are studies with people who are getting a third vaccine but that still needs to be evaluated. What we have achieved with coronavirus has been done over time, so I hope we will have news on whether a third vaccine would work or not.”
The internist also noted that the percentage of vaccines needed to achieve mass immunity is 80%. Currently, 55% of the Nevada population has completed their vaccination.
To schedule an appointment to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.covid19washoe.com/
Watch the Facebook live stream of the interview with Dr. Martinez here (Spanish):