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UArizona expert urges vaccination to combat COVID Delta variant

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 19:50:21-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID has now been detected in Pima County.

The chief of infectious diseases at the University of Arizona, Dr. Elizabeth Connick, has been tracking the Delta variant since it first appeared in India.

"The Delta variant appears to be much more contagious and it also seems to cause more severe illness," Dr. Connick said.

The Delta variant spread rapidly in India and also became the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.K.

A study there shows the Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the alpha strain.

There is encouraging news for those who are fully vaccinated.

"Effectiveness against the alpha variant is 93% and against the Delta variant, just slightly less, 88%," Dr. Connick said. "The good news is the vaccines work against symptomatic disease very well for both."

Dr. Connick points out a U.K. study found those with just one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine are significantly less protected from the Delta variant at just 33%.

She urges those who are not yet vaccinated to consider it. Otherwise, you may give the Delta variant a chance to become even more widespread.

"If the virus is allowed to continue to circulate, it will undoubtedly mutate and maybe the next variant will not be as well protected by the vaccine," Dr. Connick said.

Dr. Connick knows it's an individual choice whether or not to get vaccinated. She encourages those hesitant to get the vaccine to consult with their own physicians.

She is also asking for volunteers for an ongoing study at the University of Arizona.

The study is looking at asymptomatic transmission of COVID among younger adults.

Dr. Connick is looking for volunteers age 18 to 29, who are not yet vaccinated.

To enroll in the study, call 520-621-8349.