How Does the COVID Delta Variant Compare?
In late 2020, a variant of COVID-19 was detected in India that began to quickly spread.
Soon after it received the label “Delta,” it started to become the predominant strain of COVID-19 in countries of transmission. It spread faster than both the original disease and other variants, including “Alpha” that had taken hold in the UK.
Now the COVID-19 pandemic has essentially become the Delta pandemic, as the variant accounts for more than 90% of global cases.
But how does the COVID-19 Delta variant differ from the original disease? We consolidated studies as of September 2021 to highlight key differences between COVID-19 and the dominant variant. Sources include the CDC, Yale Medicine, and the University of California.
COVID-19 vs COVID-19 Delta Variant
At first glance, infections caused by the Delta variant are similar to the original COVID-19 disease. Symptoms reported from patients include cough, fever, headache, and a loss of smell.
But studies showed that the difference was in how quickly and severely patients got sick:
- Spread rate: How quickly the infection spreads in a community (based on the R0 or basic reproductive number). The Delta variant spread 125% faster than the original disease, making it potentially as infectious as chickenpox.
- Viral load: How much of a virus is detectable in an infected person’s blood, with higher loads correlating with more severe infections. Delta infections had a 1000x higher viral load.
- Virus detectable: How long after exposure a virus is detectable in an infected person’s blood. Delta infections were found to be detectable four days after exposure, faster than the original disease (six days).
- Infectious period: How long an infected person has the capability to pass on the virus to other people, from the first time they were exposed. Delta infections were contagious for longer than traditional COVID-19 infections, at 18 days compared to 13 days.
- Risk of hospitalization: How much more or less likely is an infection going to require hospitalization for treatment? Infections caused by the Delta variant were twice as likely to cause hospitalization compared to the original disease.
One other important finding from studies was that the existing COVID-19 vaccines helped against Delta infections.
The CDC found that approved vaccines reduced the rate of infection by 5x and the rate of hospitalization by 29x in a breakthrough case. They also found that overall efficacy against infection can wane over time, however, and at-risk people might require a booster vaccine.
What About Other COVID-19 Variants?
Delta is just one of many COVID-19 variants tracked by health officials, but it’s the one we know the most about.
That’s because reliable statistics and information on diseases requires thousands of cases for comparisons. We know a lot about Delta (and the once-dominant UK strain Alpha) because of how widespread they became, but there haven’t been enough cases of other variants to reliably assess differences.
As of September 2021, WHO was tracking 20 COVID-19 variants around the world with different classifications based on potential severity:
- 14 Variants under monitoring (VUM): Variants that are deemed to not pose a major global health risk, or no longer pose one.
- 2 Variants of Interest (VOI): Variants that affect transmissibility, virulence, mutation, and other virus characteristics, and are spreading in clusters.
- 4 Variants of Concern (VOC): Have similar characteristics to VOI but are further associated with a global risk.
Most of the current variants of interest and concern were first identified and labeled in late 2020, though 2021 variants are showing up as well.
|Label||Designation||Documented Origin||Earliest Identified Date|
|Alpha||Variant of Concern||UK||September 2020|
|Beta||Variant of Concern||South Africa||May 2020|
|Gamma||Variant of Concern||Brazil||November 2020|
|Delta||Variant of Concern||India||October 2020|
|Lambda||Variant of Interest||Peru||December 2020|
|Mu||Variant of Interest||Colombia||January 2021|
Should you be worried about all of these variants? For the most part, a lack of cases to provide clear information also reflects that they’re equivalent to or weaker than traditional COVID-19 infections.
But it’s important to note that our understanding of diseases and variants becomes more nuanced and accurate over time. As research continues over a longer timeline and over a wider database of cases, expect information on COVID-19 variants (and any disease) to become more concrete.
The Global Syringe Shortage Threatening Vaccine Efforts
Routine vaccination saves millions of lives every single year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
But even though global vaccination coverage is improving, closing the gap in immunization has led to skyrocketing demand for syringes—which is forecast to result in a major shortage that could make matters worse.
In the above infographic from NuGen Medical Devices, we explore the factors leading to the syringe shortage and take a look at the company’s innovative needle-free solution that could play an important role in closing the immunization gap.
The Immunization Gap
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people around the world struggled to get access to routine vaccinations.
In fact, as of 2019 more than 19 million children around the world were considered to be “zero-dose” which means that they did not receive any routine vaccinations.
Moreover, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, global immunization dropped even further with 25 million children missing out on routine vaccines in 2021 alone.
Why is Immunization So Important?
Vaccinations prevent against over 20 life-threatening diseases and save between 2-3 million deaths per year, making them—as the WHO describes—the foundation of healthcare systems and an indisputable human right.
As countries work through a backlog of vaccinations to close the immunization gap that has worsened since the pandemic, demand for syringes has significantly increased.
The Result: A Global Syringe Deficit
In 2022, the WHO warned that we could see a shortage of up to 2 billion syringes if manufacturing can’t keep up. This could result in the severe disruption to routine vaccinations and promote unsafe recycling of syringes in order to administer vaccines.
But the issue goes far beyond a supply shortage of syringes. COVID-19 has brought conventional syringe vaccines into sharp focus, with many criticizing the challenges associated with them.
|Vaccine Hesitancy: |
1 in 10 Americans have an extreme fear of needles and therefore will avoid vaccination.
The cost of essential syringe vaccination makes them inaccessible for people living in low and middle income countries.
|Cost of Logistics: |
Geographical constrains, a lack of infrastructure, and the need to keep vaccines at sub-zero temperatures prevent them from reaching those who need it the most.
7.8 billion needles are discarded in the U.S. every year.
|Reduce Fear: |
Needle-free devices remove the fear of syringes.
|Reduce Costs: |
Needle-free devices are lower in cost per injection compared to conventional needles.
|Minimizes Cold Chain: |
NuGen MD’s next generation powder injectables minimize the need for a cold chain (keeping vaccines at sub-zero temperatures) entirely.
Needle-free technology reduces environmental waste significantly.
With conventional needles facing so many challenges, it’s no surprise that investors are taking interest in viable alternatives. What’s more, these alternatives don’t just apply to vaccinations, they can also work for people with diabetes, dentists, and pet care.
Enter Needle-free Devices from NuGen MD
Needle-free devices have the potential to bridge the gap in immunization amid the global syringe shortage, solve some of the key challenges limiting vaccine uptake, and more importantly, benefit the lives of millions of people.
How Do They Work?
NuGen’s needle-free devices use a simple spring-loaded mechanism which uses pressure to release the liquid drug and penetrate the skin. In less than one-tenth of a second, the drug is dispensed more safely and evenly compared to needle syringes. It’s also virtually painless and leaves no mark on the skin.
>>>Interested in investing in NuGen Medical Devices? To learn more about their plans to pioneer the future of needle-free drug delivery, click this link now.
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