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September 19, 2021

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Covid-19: The next threat of the fastest and fittest

COVID-19 has been more deadly in 2021 so far then COVID-19 deaths in 2020

By Karen Kier
Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

Many may not realize that to date, COVID-19 has been more deadly in 2021 so far then COVID-19 deaths in 2020. 

Why? This is a global statistic and although vaccines have driven down the number of deaths in the United States, the United Kingdom, and China, the worldwide burden of the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating.

Globally, 1.8 million died in 2020 while over 2 million have died in 2021. What is fueling this statistic? The lack of global availability of vaccines and the variant strains of the coronavirus are two of many issues.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines threat as “an indication of something impending.” Well for COVID-19, the new impending threat is called the delta variant. Dr. Fauci this week indicated that the delta variant is the greatest threat to our ability to eliminate COVID-19 from the United States. 

The delta variant of the virus was first identified in India but now makes up 20% of all cases in the United States.

This is up from 10% of COVID-19 cases only two weeks ago. This rapid rise is due to the very contagious delta strain. The variant spreads very easily and is following a very similar pattern to the United Kingdom variant (known as alpha or B.1.1.7).

When the United Kingdom variant was identified in the United States, there was a similar rise in infection rates with COVID. The same doubling of cases every two weeks. The ability of the delta variant to spread is 60% greater than the alpha variant.

Currently, the United Kingdom reports that 95% of the COVID-19 cases have resulted from the delta variant. This shows how rapidly this variant can take over. What we do not know at this point is if the delta variant causes more severe disease and symptoms.

What we know
What we do know is that the delta variant has different symptoms than what is seen with the other mutated strains. The most common initial symptoms are a headache and runny nose.

These are early symptoms that may not alert someone to a COVID-19 infection and that is another problem with the delta variant. It is not your typical COVID-19 symptoms and people do not realize they are sick and have a potential to spread the virus due to exposure. 

The most common age group in the United Kingdom spreading the delta variant are those 20 to 29 years of age and those who are not vaccinated.

The delta variant has spread to 92 different counties based on World Health Organization information for tracking the virus. The World Health Organization public health officials have warned that this delta variant is the fastest and fittest stain of coronavirus yet. They warn that this variant has the potential to cause devastation and death in our most vulnerable populations. 

The variant tracking in the United States shows the highest regions with the delta variant are the Midwest and Upper Plains with states like Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, and Missouri recording about 40% of the cases.

The region includes Ohio
The region that includes Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois has recorded about 14% of the cases are related to the delta variant. 

The good news for those who are vaccinated is that the current United States vaccines do have activity against this delta variant. The greatest protection with the vaccine for the delta variant is the ability to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death. 

The bad news is that previous COVID-19 infections with antibodies do not provide protection from an infection with the delta variant.  A second infection with the delta variant can easily occur no matter how long ago the COVID-19 infection or the documentation of antibodies. The delta variant is a good example of how natural immunity from the infection does not provide protection.

The CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged Americans to get the vaccine to stop the next threat of the fastest and fittest virus yet.  It is not too late to get the vaccine.  The good news is Ohio still has vaccine available and many sites around the state are still providing services. 

It has been great to see a return back to normal!  Let us help to preserve this normality by protecting our population. 

The Ohio Northern University Drug and Health Information Center (DHIC) is available to answer questions related to the COVID-19, vitamins, and supplements, as well as other medication and health information.

The pharmacists and student pharmacists that answer questions are very well educated on the COVID-19 vaccines. The website to submit a question to the DHIC is  https://www.onu.edu/student-life/health-and-wellness-resources/onu-healt....

Feel free to call the ONU HealthWise Pharmacy or talk to your health care professional for more information.  ONU HealthWise is offering COVID-19 vaccines on a walk-in basis. Please contact us for more information.

ONU HealthWise Pharmacy