CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: Symptoms Of The Delta Variant Depend On Vaccination Status, According To Doctors

More than 97% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, once again stressing healthcare systems.

The Delata coronavirus variant is not responsible for more than 83% of COVID – 19 cases in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – a rapid spike compared to early June, when it only made up 10% of cases. More than 97% of hospitalized COVID -19 patients are unvaccinated, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said during a briefing earlier this month.

‘If you get COVID – 19 now, you can assume that it is from the Delta variant as it is the dominant versions of the virus circulating in this country’, says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The Delta variant, originally known as B.1.617.2, was first detected in India, in December 2020, per the CDC. The variant is concerning because it spreads quickly and easily, may make vaccine less effective, and may reduce the effectiveness of some monoclonal antibody treatments.

Whether you’re vaccinated or not, it’s understandable to be a little nervous if you end up developing cold – like symptoms: Is it the Delta variant or just a summer cold? Plus, are Delta’s symptoms any different compared to the original strain of the novel coronavirus? Here’s everything to keep in mind, according to infectious disease experts.

What Are They Symptoms Of The Delta Variant?

The CDC and other major health organizations have’t parsed out symptoms of COVID-19 variants from the original strain. As of now, this is the CDC’s list of COVID – 19 symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breat of difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle of body aches
  • Headache
  • New less of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

It it very hard to tell the difference between the Delta variant and any other SARS – CoV – 2 strain, says William Schaffaner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. So, regardless of the variant, any of the symptoms above could be a sign of COVID – 19 illness.

However, experts say early symptoms associated with the Delta variant have shifted slightly compared to the original strain of the virus. ‘Delta seems to be more likely to cause stuffy nose, sore throat, and headache, while the original strain caused more cough, shortness of breath, and loss of taste and smell’, says Richard Watkind, M.D., an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University.

But those symptoms appear to become more severe, particularly in those who have not received a vaccine. ‘Just look at the data’, Dr. Schaffner says, referring to rising cases across the country. In fact, the CDC has once again updated its mask guidelines, recommending that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ COVID – 19 transmission – which applies to more than half of all U.S. counties.

‘Intensive care units are filling up across the country in some locations, stressing healthcare systems’, Dr. Schaffner. ‘That’s the Delta variant causing serious disease in the unvaccinated’.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Breakthrough Infections With The Delta Variant?

A breakthrough infection refers to a person who had detectable levels of SARS – CoV – 2 in their body at least 14 days after they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID – 19. These cases are expected, as the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infection, but are still considered rare.

‘Most breakthrough infections do not case disease – they are without symptoms’, Dr. Adalja says. ‘The ones that cause symptoms are generally very mild’.

If you do have symptoms as a fully vaccinated person, though, it would likely ‘feel like a mild cold’, Dr. Schaffner says. ‘Those breakthrough infections don’t progress. The vaccine prevents that from happening’.

That’s because, in those who have received the vaccine, the immune system has already been primed to recognize and fight the virus; antibodies are quick to get to work, stavinf off serious illness before it can begin.

What Should You Do If You Suspect You Have COVID-19?

Because it is impossible to know if you have the Delta variant or another strain of COVID – 19 until you are tested, you’ll need to isolate yourself from others and call your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms above, just to be safe.

Dr. Schaffner stresses that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and those around you from COVID – 19, which is now responsible for more than 4,3 million deaths world wilde. The vaccines prevent severe symptoms, he says. ‘But if you’re unvaccinated, you’re just as at risk of getting serious illness as you were with the original strain’.