“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, responsible for more than 80 percent of Covid-19 cases.
A new study, published online this month, sheds light on why. It finds that the variant grows more rapidly inside people’s respiratory tracts and too much higher levels, researchers at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
On average, people infected with the delta variant had about 1,000 times more copies of the virus in their respiratory tracts than those infected with the original strain of the coronavirus, the study reported.
In addition, after someone catches the delta variant, the person likely becomes infectious sooner. On average, it took about four days for the delta variant to reach detectable levels inside a person, compared with six days for the original coronavirus variant.” (“Why The Delta Variant Is Hyper-Contagious: A New Study Sheds Light.” NPR, 21 July 2021)
“Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water...” So went the line from the top grossing movie “Jaws,” in reference to a giant great white shark lurking off the waters of Martha’s Vineyard and preying on unsuspecting bathers as they swam in the deep-blue waters around the island.
That was scary back in the day. So much so that many kids, having seen the movie, would not go into the shower alone, fearing that if they so much as closed their eyes, the great white shark would emerge from the water and devour them whole, like it did to the hapless swimmers in the movie.
Today, we have something even scarier and it is not to be found in the deep blue waters of the Atlantic, but in the air all around us, carried by anyone and everyone that we would never suspect of harboring danger. Such is the reality we live in today, that even those we hold near and dear to our hearts could actually pass on something to us that could gravely endanger our lives. And oh, just when we thought it was safe to go back into the big wide world... it isn’t yet, again.
I must confess that when I had my second dose of the vaccine, I couldn’t help but conjure images in my head of finally being able to hug my parents, dine with my siblings, share a beer with my friends and work out in the gym. After all, these are things we simply took for granted in normal times and we never once thought that we would have to give them up in favor of social distancing, mask-wearing and working from home.
This delta variant though is proving to us once more that Mother Nature does throw us curve balls once in a while and we need to be able to adjust our batting styles accordingly, if we ever hope to hit a home run against this pandemic.
The problem is, of course, that people being people -- their collective sense of isolation and deprivation is giving rise to a recklessness that is fueling a resurgence of the pandemic in many parts of the world. In places as disparate and far-away as Jacksonville and Jakarta, the rather careless abandon of many is providing fresh kindling to the dying pandemic fire, so much so that we are seeing cases rising as we did during the worst parts of 2020.
I don’t want to be overly critical, as we are all human after all, and wanting to be out and about is a natural yearning for most. But it’s a bit more of patience versus certain self-destruction. And just as it was foolhardy for the beachgoers of Martha’s Vineyard to insist on swimming after they had already been warned of the presence of a great white shark in the waters around them, it is certainly collective suicide now if we continue to insist on letting down our guard, with the delta variant lurking in the air all around us.