AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Delta variant of COVID-19 is quickly taking over in the CSRA. Data compiled by researchers at the Georgia Esoteric and Molecular (GEM) Laboratory at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) reveals Delta is the most dominant strain in the community. Out of more than 300 samples collected in June and July, 142 were identified as Delta. This is a sharp contrast to samples collected in April and May, in which Delta was not detected at all.
“This is how the virus evolves,” Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, the director of the GEM at MCG, explains “The more aggressive strains are replacing the less aggressive strains.”
Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, who leads the study, tells NewsChannel 6 COVID-19 will continue mutating in areas where vaccination rates are low, like in the CSRA. 32 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated in Richmond County, while 36 percent have received at least one dose.
“These unvaccinated individuals do act as a source for the virus to evolve.”
Mutations are already evident in Augusta. More than 30 samples collected by MCG were identified as Delta-plus in June and July.
“At this moment, we know it’s definitely a variant of concern. It’s still evolving. We really don’t know how much damage, in addition to Delta, this particular variant will make.”
As the virus mutates, Kolhe worries children are becoming more at-risk of serious infection as many are ineligible for vaccination. Seven children were being treated for COVID-19 at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Tuesday.
“If you go back a year and look at infection rates in children with the original virus, the B-strain, there was hardly any positivity. If you look at the data from the last two to three months when Delta became a lot more prominent in the country, the number of cases suddenly started to go up across the globe, but mostly in the United States. Not only has the infection rate gone up in children, but symptomatic infections, which are definitely concerning, have also gone up. Admissions of these symptomatic children to the hospital have also gone up.”
“I’m definitely worried that these additional mutations in Delta or new strains, like Lambda, might be a lot more worrisome for children,” he adds.