Just when it seems like we've contained the pandemic, it comes back with a roundhouse kick to our groins.
The Delta variant continues to spread across the U.S. and around the world. Modeling shows that it now accounts for more than 90 percent of new infections, ccording to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
No wonder. The CDC estimates that Delta can be as infectious as chickenpox and only slightly less contagious than measles, which is considered one of the most transmissible viruses.
"The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Walensky said in July.
All of this gave rise to a new meme, called "My Fall plans Vs. the Delta variant" - a painful but relatable and funny take on the ambitious new strain.
Delta is very effective; for every person that the original variant would have infected, delta infects three people. A part of the reason why it's so much more contagious is because an infected person with the delta variant carries 1,000 times more virus than they would have with the original strain.
But that's not all. General practitioner, medical researcher, and founder of PrimeHealth Clinical Research, Iris Gorfinkel, M.D., told Bored Panda that many call delta almost a different disease because of the way it seems to affect children.
"One recent study suggested that long Covid with its ongoing symptoms is a very serious problem for children and that it should not be underestimated," Gorfinkel said.
Most people who catch Covid-19 don't fall severely ill and get better relatively quickly. But a significant number of people have had long-term problems after recovering from the virus - even if they weren't very ill in the first place. That's long Covid.
Guidance for UK health workers describes long covid as symptoms continuing for more than 12 weeks after an infection - severe or mild - and can't be explained by another cause.
According to the NHS, symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness;
- shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness;
- problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog");
- changes to taste and smell;
- joint pain.
A study by University College London (UCL), identified 200 symptoms affecting 10 organ systems in people with long Covid, at higher levels than in people who were fully recovered.
They include hallucinations, insomnia, hearing and vision changes, short-term memory loss, and speech and language issues. Others have also reported gastro-intestinal and bladder problems, changes to periods, and skin conditions.
How severe these symptoms are varies, but they're definitely not something you'd like to be stuck with yourself or see your loved ones battle.
Gorfinkel said that depending on which study you read, up to 30% of children can be affected by long Covid. "Other estimates are much lower than that. But in any case, even if it's 5% (the traditional number was said with previous variances to have been around 10%), what's frightening is that delta is affecting children whereas with other variants, it was mainly adults who comprised long Covid."
Long story short, the Delta variant changes the game. And it very well might change our Fall plans too.