Five Things to Know About the Delta COVID-19 Variant
- The Delta strain is more contagious and potentially may cause more severe disease. Genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been emerging and circulating around the world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Variant B.1.617.2, also known as Delta, was first identified in India in 2020. It is now the prominent variant circulating in the U.S. Delta making up more than 50% of COVID positive cases. Delta is identified as a Variant of Concern by the CDC due to its increased transmissibility and ability to cause serious illness. Early research about the severity showed the Delta variant was about twice as likely as the Alpha variant to result in hospitalization in unvaccinated individuals (per a study from Scotland).
- Local outbreaks of COVID-19 from Delta are likely. Low immunization rates in certain areas of the country are prone to the “hyper-transmissibility” of Delta and in areas where vaccination rates are low, it could place a burden on local health
- Symptoms can present differently from other variants. The loss of taste and smell was the most common sign of the coronavirus throughout the early pandemic, many getting sick with Delta show up with more vague symptoms, like hearing loss, a runny nose or sore throat. Those infected with Delta are also more likely to be hospitalized and require oxygen treatment. Experts say that it is important for people to continue to get tested for COVID-19 if they have any COVID symptoms, even if it feels like a mild cold.
- The vaccines are still highly effective against the Delta variant. The two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine all appear to protect against any of the coronavirus strains, including Delta. Preliminary data shows 99.5% of U.S. residents who died from COVID-19 over the past six months have been unvaccinated.
- We don’t know everything about the Delta variant, yet. We need to continue to learn if Delta could cause more breakthrough COVID cases. Research from the UK showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease and 96% effective against hospitalization caused by Delta.
President Biden – President Biden has called for a new vaccination push. “Please get vaccinated now,” the president said Tuesday, 7/6/2021.
Hexapro – A needle-free COVID-19 vaccine developed using technology from the University of Texas – Austin shows promise. The vaccine ‘patch’ works by ‘clicking’ an applicator on the skin, and 5000 microscopic projections almost-imperceptibly deliver vaccine into the skin. Their research is currently in peer review and has been published in BioRxiv.
According to the CDC, as of 7/7/2021, 383 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered. 331 million doses of vaccine have been administered. This accounts for the following percentages of fully vaccinated people in the U.S.:
- Total population = 47.5%
- Those over 12 years = 55.5%
- Those over 18 years = 58.3%
- Those over 65 years = 78.6%
Scruples and Drams – News and Notes from Around Pharmacy
- Pharmacy Employee Shortage. In a recent NCPA survey, nearly 90% of respondents to the stated they couldn’t find pharmacy technicians, and nearly 60% said they struggled to recruit front-end employees to run the cash register, track inventory, and manage other basic store operations. Over 13% percent are finding it challenging to hire staff pharmacists.
- Synergy Medical and Parata Systems Merge. Pharmacy automation provider Parata Systems, announced the acquisition of Synergy Medical, a company that develops automation technologies for preparing and dispensing solid oral medications in blister cards.
Pharmacies have been giving immunizations for years. Vaccine supply, staffing, state pharmacy practice acts provide layers of complexity. Before COVID-19 most pharmacies blended on-demand and preset appointment offerings for vaccines. Then enter COVID-19, balancing staff and patient safety with workflow and customer preference. Now that we are entering a more “normalized” pharmacy operations phase, Rebecca Lichucki, CPhT, Marketouch’s Clinical director looks at clinics, appointments and appointment-less delivery of vaccines and other clinical service offerings.