Delta variant described as 'new beast' as UCSF doctors gear up for potential peak this October

Luz Pena Image
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Doctors gear up for Delta variant's potential peak this fall
The Delta variant is intensifying across the country. Friday the CDC confirmed the Delta variant makes up 83% of new COVID cases.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Delta variant is intensifying across the country. Friday the CDC confirmed the Delta variant makes up 83% of new COVID cases.

The CDC reports multiple concerning trends- Outbreaks in low vaccination states, high levels of community transmission and the unvaccinated making up 99% of deaths. All this pointing to the Delta variant.

RELATED: Nearly all COVID-19 deaths in US are now among people who weren't vaccinated

Luz Pena: "Is it safe to say that you are trying to keep up with these variants?"

Dr. Nevan Krogan: "Yes, absolutely. It seems like the virus is always a step ahead of us and we are trying to get one step ahead of it."

Dr. Nevan Krogan is the Director of UCSF's Quantitative Bioscience Institute. QBI's team is actively studying the molecular aspects of all the variants to understand why the Delta variant is highly transmissible. Dr. Krogan says we need to vaccinate fast before another variant emerges.

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"They mutate and they try to evade the defense mechanism we have in our cells. Almost certainly there is going to be new variants. The question here is what we are learning here from the Alpha and the Delta variant can we apply to the next variant that we don't know about yet," said Dr. Krogan.

In April, the Delta variant represented only 0.5% of U.S. cases. Fast forward to three months later, it's more than 83% of new COVID cases.

"It's like the virus finds the unvaccinated," said Dr. Monica Gandhi, UCSF's Infectious disease specialist, adding, "This is really a new beast."

RELATED: 'Pandemic of the unvaccinated': Bay Area doctor says cases could overwhelm hospitals within 4 weeks

As the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain across the country hospitals are gearing up for what they say is a preventable fourth surge of COVID.

The latest national model projects a peak in mid-October with deaths potentially more than tripling what they are now.

"It's extremely disturbing that there is this projection of up to 850 deaths a day because actually prior to this rise of the Delta variant we had actually been down to less than 200 death a day," said Dr. Gandhi.

According to the CDC, the current 7-day average of new cases increased nearly 47% compared to the previous 7-day average. Friday, UCSF Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi contacted the CDC asking for a vaccine mandate

"There's precedent for that. In 1905 in the middle of the smallpox pandemic in the United States when people were taking the smallpox vaccine the Supreme Court upheld a law that you can mandate vaccines for very dangerous illness if people aren't taking them. Really for public health, safety and welfare," said Dr. Gandhi.

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