A recent outbreak of more than 125 cases of COVID-19 infections is linked to a Houston-area youth church camp, which a Texas virologist says may have been caused by the new, highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. The expert said that it should be a wake-up call for people in the state.
Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist and professor at Texas A&M University, said: “Clearly, COVID is not over”.
“COVID isn’t ever gone until it’s completely gone,” Neuman said. “And I think we’ve made the mistake of assuming that the virus would go away or assuming that the virus wouldn’t affect children … We keep stumbling into the same mistakes over and over, and that is not a way out of COVID-19,” he added.
More than 450 adults and youth participated in the Galveston County church’s camp which took place in June, according to reports. Over 125 fresh infections of COVID-19 have been reported from among the participants of the camp out of which three cases have been confirmed to date to have been caused by the Delta variant.
The Delta variant is poised to become the leading variant in the United States in the coming months, warn Texas health experts. They say their top concern is the risk the variant represents for those who are unvaccinated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25% of the fresh COVID-19 cases in the country are caused by this variant. The Delta variant was first identified in India and brought in a devastating second wave in the country in April and May. It has now been confirmed to have spread to 85 other countries and causing outbreaks in areas with low rates of vaccination.
According to Dr. Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at Texas A&M University’s School of Public Health, the Delta variant is the most transmissible among the many strains of coronavirus. Research on the Delta variant has indicated it can lead to higher hospitalization rates for infected people.
According to The Texas Tribune’s Covid-19 tracker, about 41.5% of the population of Texas has been completely vaccinated as of July 4 compared to the national average of 47%, according to the CDC. But the pace of vaccination in the past few months has slowed down in Texas – at a time when the delta variant is spreading fast.
According to reports in the Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News, several cities across the state of Texas, including Houston and Dallas, have already reported infections from the Delta variant. However, Fischer said that the lack of testing for variants in Texas means that the reported number of delta variant cases is “sorely underestimated”.