ORLANDO, Fla. - COVID-19 cases in the United States are trending back up and White House officials continue to raise concerns about the spread of the Delta variant specifically.
However, it is important to know that the delta variant is somewhat different from what we have seen so far in this pandemic.
What is the delta variant of COVID-19?
The delta variant is a mutated version of the novel coronavirus that spreads more easily than other strains. It was first detected earlier this year in India but now has been identified in countries around the world. It got its name from the World Health Organization, which names notable variants after letters of the Greek alphabet.
Viruses constantly mutate, and most changes aren't concerning. But there is a worry that some variants might evolve enough to be more contagious, cause more severe illness or evade the protection that vaccines provide. Experts believe the delta variant spreads more easily because of mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies. On its website, the CDC notes "increased transmissibility" with the delta variant and the potential for it to make certain monoclonal antibody treatments less effective.
It's not clear yet whether the variant makes people sicker since more data needs to be collected, Dr. Jacob John, who studies viruses at Christian Medical College at Vellore in southern India, told the Associated Press. Regardless, many health experts have warned of the variant’s potential to set back progress made in the pandemic. The World Health Organization said the delta variant is "the fastest and fittest" of the known coronavirus strains and warned it will "pick off" those most vulnerable "more efficiently" than previous strains.
What are the symptoms of the delta variant versus other strains?
For much of the pandemic, health officials have warned that fever, cough, and shortness of breath are common symptoms of COVID-19. Loss of taste and smell has also been reported amongst many.
Here is a question and answer guide to help you make decisions and seek appropriate medical care. Follow this link and look on the right-hand side of your screen for the "Self-Checker" module: Self-Check
However, with the delta variant, there are other symptoms to watch for. WebMD reports that you may experience a persistent cough, headache, fever, and sore throat. In fact, with this variant, they said that cough and loss of smell seem to occur less. Headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever are much more common. However, it is still early in the spread of the delta variant and there is more to learn.
Do vaccines work against the Delta variant?
Studies have shown that the available vaccines work against variants, including the delta variant. The findings are why experts say it's important to be fully vaccinated. And it's why they say making vaccines accessible globally is so critical. To date, 48.6 percent of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated, including nearly 60 percent of American adults, CDC data shows.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to recommend that fully vaccinated people again wear face masks indoors if they are in an area where the novel coronavirus is surging.
The highly transmissible delta variant and millions of unvaccinated Americans are fueling the surge, the CDC said. The country is averaging more than 57,000 new cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 35 News app. Download for iOS or Android
To maximize protection from the delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, the CDC recommends that those who are vaccinated wear a mask indoors in public in areas with high or substantial transmission rates.
Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.