WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The latest figures from the CDC show that more than 154 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
Despite this encouraging news, doctors are concerned about the emerging COVID-19 delta variant first seen in India.
The head of the World Health Organization said last week the delta variant is "the most transmissible of the variants identified so far" and warned it is now spreading in at least 85 countries.
In the U.K. and India, the delta variant now comprises more than 90 percent of new COVID cases, and in the U.S., that number is rising as well.
WPTV spoke Wednesday afternoon with Dr. Ramprasad Gopalan, an infectious disease specialist, about this variant and what you should know about this strain of the virus.
Gopalan said the Delta variant cases in the U.S. have gone from "minuscule" in April to now about 20 percent of the COVID-19 cases in America.
"We have to be concerned about it," Gopalan said. "The delta variant's transmissibility is high."
Gopalan said the delta variant could produce a future spike in cases among those not vaccinated.
He reiterated the importance of getting the vaccine and said the majority of the patients he is treating range in age from 20 to 50 years old.
"I ask one question to each and every one of them: 'Are you vaccinated?' Invariably, the answer is 'no,'" Gopalan said.
Gopalan is encouraged that studies show the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly successful at protecting patients against the coronavirus variants.
"Your chance of being hospitalized, getting severely sick, is negligible, is very low, [if you have been fully vaccinated]," Gopalan said.
Also, a new study released this week suggests people may have protection from the coronavirus for years if they receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
He adds that if you are not vaccinated, wearing a mask and social distancing is the best way to stop the spread of the virus.