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What teens should know about the COVID-19 Delta variant
The Delta variant: it's a scary, new and confusing part of our lives. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, you might have heard of new COVID-19 variants. Simply put, a variant is caused by a mutation of a virus that can make it more deadly or transmissible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, variants are an expected result of viruses, and COVID-19 is no different. Though many variants have emerged, Delta stands out for its uniquely awful properties.
What makes the Delta variant different?
The Delta variant is 50% more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19. Some studies found that the Delta variant results in more hospitalizations in the unvaccinated. These harsh statistics are because people infected with the Delta variant have a greater viral load, aka the amount of virus in someone's body. Currently, the Delta variant is behind over 90% of cases in the United States, powering the surge all across the country. The United States broke 100,000 cases per day, which has not happened since February during the largest wave of COVID-19.
How can you protect yourself?
Get vaccinated and wear a mask in public. Unvaccinated people are at the greatest risk of infection, serious illness and death. Over 99% of people experiencing serious symptoms are unvaccinated, and a study found that they are 3x more likely to test positive for COVID. Only .04% of vaccinated individuals have experienced breakthrough cases. States with lower vaccinations rates (ex: Florida and Louisiana) have much higher infection rates than states with high vaccination rates (ex: Maine and Vermont). Get vaccinated to protect yourself and vulnerable members from infection—if you are over 12, you are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Wearing a mask in public is important because you can still spread the Delta variant even if you are vaccinated as the viral load is higher.
What does the future look like?
COVID-19 is difficult and uncertain. It's hard not to know whether you'll be in-person for school and when the world will go back to normal. However, experts predict that the virus will become endemic. That means it will enter the host of yearly coronaviruses we get each year. This might sound like bad news, but scientists predict that with increased immunity, COVID-19 will no longer cause severe illness and death. We will end the pandemic if enough people get vaccinated. Luckily, the United Kingdom is passing its wave of Delta cases, suggesting the United States will too.
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