ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Dr. Mathew Devine, the Medical Director at Highland Family Medicine, discussed the emergence of the COVID-19 Delta variant and the danger it poses Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

What is the latest with the strains and COVID-19 infections?

We have a lot to celebrate in regard to passing the 70% milestone for New York State citizens having received at least one COVID vaccine.

However COVID still lingers and the world health organization (WHO) reported that the highly contagious Delta variant is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain yet, and it will “pick off” the most vulnerable people, especially in places with low COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Where was the Delta strain from?

Delta, first identified in India, has the potential “to be more lethal” because it’s more efficient in the way it transmits between humans and it will eventually find those vulnerable individuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalized, and potentially die.

Why is this important new news?

The WHO said Friday that delta is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide.

Delta is now replacing Alpha, the highly contagious variant that swept across Europe and later the U.S. earlier this year.

Studies suggest it is around 60% more transmissible than Alpha, which was more contagious than the original strain that emerged from Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

Delta has now spread to 92 countries and now makes up at least 10% of all new cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is on its way to becoming the dominant variant in the nation.

What can we do about this?

All who are eligible for vaccination need to get it now. With millions who have gotten vaccinated, we need people to understand that the risks of covid infection far exceed the risks of side effects from the vaccine.

WHO officials have said there were reports that the Delta variant also causes more severe symptoms, but that more research is needed to confirm those conclusions. Still, there are signs the Delta strain could provoke different symptoms than other variants.

These vaccines are highly effective against severe disease and death. That is what they are intended for, and that is what they need to be used for.  Although there is much we can be happy about with the vaccination rates, we still have many zip codes in Monroe County that have some of the lowest rates of vaccinations in the state.  As the mask mandates fall, it will be possible for those who were not vaccinated, and children under the age of 12, to continue to spread COVID.  We need to work together to get everyone vaccinated.