Delta variant: What it is, the risks, staying safe

Health Watch

THE World Health Organisation’s Dr Maria Van Kerkhove discusses
the “delta variant” and the risks.

Delta variant – What is it?
Dr Kerkhove: The delta variant is a variant of concern that the WHO is tracking and monitoring around the world.
It’s a variant of concern because we know it has increased transmissibility.
This has been demonstrated by several countries.
We know that where the delta variant is identified, it rapidly takes off and spreads between people more efficiently than even the alpha variant that was first detected around last December and January.
As of today, the delta variant has been reported in 96 countries and we expect that it will continue to spread.
There are a number of factors that are contributing to increased transmission around the world.
The first are these variants of concern, including the delta variant.
The second factor is that we have increased social mixing and increased social mobility, which increases the number of contacts that individuals have.
The third factor is the relaxation or the inappropriate use of public health and social measures.
Proven public health and social measures that we know prevent infections, reduce the spread of somebody who is infected with the virus to others and save lives.
The fourth factor is the uneven and inequitable distribution of vaccines.
The world remains largely susceptible to infection, including any variants of concern, including the delta variant.

Different countries are in different stages of this pandemic. How can we assess our risk wherever we live to protect ourselves from the delta variant?
This is a very important question.
Knowing your risk helps you to take the measures to lower your risk every day.
There are many things that you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones protected against this virus, including the delta variant.
This includes making sure you have clean hands, wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth and that you have clean hands when you put on your mask and you take off your mask. It involves avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others, making sure that if you are indoors, you are in a room that has good ventilation.
In many respects, that’s as simple as opening a window or two windows so that you have good airflow.
Taking all of those measures will reduce the possibility of exposure to the virus and reduce the possibility of you getting infected.
We know that the vaccines are incredibly effective of preventing severe disease and death.
So, when it is your turn, make sure that you take that opportunity and you get vaccinated.
If you are required to get two doses, make sure you go back for that second dose so that you could be fully protected against severe disease and death.

Do our risks change? Also, should we change our tactics and protective measures depending on what situations we find ourselves in?
Too many people around the world are not yet vaccinated or have not
yet received the full vaccination course.
So, people remain susceptible to infection and they may remain susceptible to severe disease and death.
This is why we continue to recommend to take a comprehensive approach using all of the tools that we have at our disposal to prevent ourselves from getting infected in the first place.
Currently, we recommend to continue to adhere, to reinforce adherence to all of the measures that we have, all of the tools that we have at our disposal.
Follow the local guidance that’s issued in your area and make sure that you take control over what you do and reduce your opportunities for getting infected.
This is a dynamic situation and we’re learning more every day about these variants of concern.
So, for the time being, do everything that you can to keep yourself safe and keep up with the latest information.