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New COVID-19 variant has started showing up in Georgia

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A variant of the coronavirus first found in India has been found here in Georgia.

A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health said Wednesday the Delta variant has been found across the state, although at this point there are fewer than 20 cases.

Still, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are calling it a “variant of interest,” meaning they’ll will want to monitor it closely in case it becomes a bigger issue.

DPH officials say getting vaccinated is the best way to slow the spread of these variants.

The Delta variant appears to be more contagious and may cause severe disease compared to other strains.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the new variant is a threat to America’s progress against the pandemic.

“We cannot declare victory prematurely,” he warned.

Fauci said it could spell trouble for the United States if it becomes the dominant strain.

“We don’t want to let happen in the U.S., what is happening currently in the UK,” Fauci said.

Right now, 6% of new COVID infections in the United States are the Delta variant.

Still, the country is making big strides against the pandemic.

Average daily cases are near a 14-month low, and more than half of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated.

But health experts warn we’re not in the clear.

“The Delta variant really is a double threat because it is both more infectious and it can evade our immune responses,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist.

A slowdown in the rate of vaccinations leaves unvaccinated Americans vulnerable to variants.

“The pandemic is definitely not over for those who are not vaccinated,” Gounder said.

While the variant is highly susceptible to two-dose vaccines, a single dose drops their effectiveness to only 33% against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant, according to the UK Public Health Agency.

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