COVID-19 Delta Variant: What You Need to Know

The pandemic's re-emergence in daily life can be worrying. Testing can help bring back peace of mind.

COVID-19 Delta Variant: What You Need to Know
Diagnostics Testing | Aug. 19, 2021

Since May, the Delta variant has come to dominate new coronavirus infections in the U.S. In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reiterated its guidance recommending vaccinations, masks and social distancing during this surge, including for those vaccinated when indoors with people who are not their families.

As people continue to gather at more public places and events at near full capacity — including schools — here's what you need know about the Delta variant and how testing can help restore peace of mind.

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Delta variant fundamentals: The Delta variant now accounts for more than more than 90% of new infections, according to the CDC. Delta is also believed to be the most transmissible strain of COVID-19 yet.

  • CDC mapping shows the Delta variant was preceded by Alpha (B.1.1.7) that was first detected in the U.S. in December 2020. Beta followed (B.1.351) in January. Gamma (P.1) also was found in the U.S. in January. Delta (B.1.617.2) was identified in the U.S. in March 2021.
  • "The Delta variant isn't just one kind of COVID, it's actually a group of strains that have some common features," said Mary Rodgers, principal scientist and member of the Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition. "Some mutations of the Delta variant are found in other strains as well, but it's the combination that is unique."
  • A recent study backs Rodgers' assessment. It found that, "After months of data collection, scientists agree: The delta variant is the most contagious version of the coronavirus worldwide. It spreads about two to three times faster than the original version of the virus, and it's currently dominating the outbreak in the United States."
  • While doctors treating the recent resurgence of COVID infections have noted those impacted by the Delta variant tend to be "younger, sicker, quicker," infection rates also are impacted by choices such as not wearing masks nor social distancing, as well as lower vaccination rates in hardest-hit areas.
  • "Delta is clearly linked to having the ability to escape from immune responses, having increased transmissibility, and can infect vaccinated people and spread more easily," Rodgers said. "Individual changes to the virus are coming faster than expected due to increased numbers of infection, giving the virus more chances to mutate."
  • Still more research is needed. "Some variations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines," the CDC reported. "Those variants must be monitored more carefully."

 

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Still good advice: As much as the virus has evolved since the pandemic started, general guidance for staying safe has remained the same.

  • Now that vaccines are widely available in the U.S., the CDC recommends those who are eligible should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth if you are unvaccinated or if you are vaccinated and in an area of substantial or high transmission.
  • Wash your hands often.

 

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Protecting yourself: Vaccination doesn't make it impossible for a person to contract COVID-19.

  • "While people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, it will still happen in some cases," according to the CDC. "It's possible that some fully vaccinated people might have infections, but not have symptoms." Still, vaccines "help protect people who are vaccinated from getting COVID-19 or getting severely ill from COVID-19."
  • The best way to know for sure whether you have COVID is through testing.
  • "Vulnerable populations now have the power to test themselves like never before," Rodgers said, who continues to test her children as they await eligibility for the vaccine. "Having the ability to test at home, in 15 minutes, has helped my family navigate the pandemic with added confidence."
  • You can test yourself with BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing, which has been shown through sequence analysis and lab testing to detect multiple strains of COVID-19, including the Delta variant.
  • "We design our tests with viral evolution in mind. They target a part of the virus that's less likely to change, and we continuously monitor new sequences to ensure that our tests detect new variants," Rodgers said. "We anticipated that variants would arise, and we've been tracking them since the very beginning."
  • Our work with partners continues. "Our Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition is monitoring COVID around the globe to identify and analyze whether any strains on their continent are evolving," Rodgers said.

 

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Next steps: It's within your power to keep you and your family safe. Testing is a key component of any plan when dealing with COVID-19.

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

BinaxNow

The BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 from individuals with or without symptoms or other epidemiological reasons to suspect COVID-19 infection when tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests. This test is authorized for non-prescription home use with self-collected direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from individuals aged 15 years or older or adult collected anterior nasal swab samples from individuals aged two years or older.

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag 2 Card is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 in direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from COVID-19 symptomatic individuals tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests within the first seven days of symptom onset.  

This test is authorized for use with direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from individuals without symptoms or other epidemiological reasons to suspect COVID-19, when tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests. Testing is limited to laboratories certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA), 42 U.S.C. §263a, that meet the requirements to perform moderate, high, or waived complexity tests. This test is authorized for use at the Point of Care (POC), i.e., in patient care settings operating under a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, Certificate of Compliance, or Certificate of Accreditation.  

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card 2 Home Test is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 in direct anterior nasal (nares) swabs from individuals with or without symptoms or other epidemiological reasons to suspect COVID-19 infection when tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests. This test is authorized for non-prescription home use with self-collected observed direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from individuals aged 15 years or older or adult collected anterior nasal swab samples from individuals aged two years or older. The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card 2 Home Test is to be performed only with the supervision of a telehealth proctor.  

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag tests have not been FDA cleared or approved. They have been authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization. The tests have been authorized only for the detection of proteins from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens, and are only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the declaration is terminated or authorization is revoked sooner.  

The ID NOW COVID-19 EUA has not been FDA cleared or approved. It has been authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization for use by authorized laboratories and patient care settings. The test has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens, and is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostic tests for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner.

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