What to Know: UNLV expert talks COVID-19 Delta plus variant

Coronavirus

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — You’ve probably heard word circulating about the COVID-19 substrain Delta plus. It’s the new variant that health officials say just popped up on their radar.

UNLV epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert Brian Labus says viruses mutate all the time.

He tells us usually, the mutations don’t mean anything, but sometimes, it means the virus can spread faster. This is the case for the new variant.

Labus says you produce more of the virus, allowing you to spread it quicker. A booster of the COVID-19 vaccine could help immunity, but the bigger problem he explains is logistics.

“To add a booster makes sense biologically and scientifically. It also makes sense the challenge is the logistics of doing that,” Labus shared. “Right now, we are still trying to get people to get their first shot of the vaccine, and then we have to bring back the hundreds of millions of people that got their shot and give them the extra dose.”

Labus says we are not at a critical point to be rolling a booster out.

According to The Washington Post, few cases have been reported in the United Kingdom, India and the United States.

Labus says a big concern for doctors will happen this winter.

“As different respiratory diseases start to circulate, and we start to do things we didn’t do last year, we have the potential for different viruses to circulate at the same time, including all the viruses we deal with and influenza,” he explained. “This will be challenging for clinicians who have to differentiate between COVID, flu and other things circulating in the community.”

He notes the vaccine is still effective against the Delta variant and that its biggest benefit is that it’s excellent at preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

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