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Ask the Experts: Answering your questions about the delta variant

2 On Your Side spoke with UB's Sr. Associate Dean for Health Policy, Dr. Nancy Nielsen about your common questions and concerns.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Many people have been asking questions about the new delta variant of the coronavirus circulating around the world and here in Western New York. 

2 On Your Side spoke with University at Buffalo's Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy, Dr.Nancy Nielsen about your common questions and concerns.

1.What is the difference between the alpha and delta coronavirus variants? Are the symptoms different?

"What's happened over these last months is, around the world new genetic mutations of that virus have developed and we are seeing it everywhere. So the delta variant is of the most concern right now because it is so much more contagious than the alpha variant," said Dr. Nielsen.

"With the delta variant of the virus, you don't see nearly as often the loss of taste and smell. Much more upper respiratory infections, runny nose you might think it's a cold," she continued. 

2. What does someone who is fully vaccinated need to know about this variant? Should they be concerned?

"If you're fully vaccinated and your immune system is intact, you are not on chemotherapy or you're not immunocompromised you can feel pretty comfortable that you're going to be OK," she said. "You may be inconvenienced if you get infected with the delta virus."

3. How are health experts testing for it? Are current COVID-19 tests able to detect the delta variant? 

"The answer to that is yes, it does detect the nucleic acid of the virus and yes it will pick up the delta variant," said Dr. Nielsen.

4. How many fully vaccinated people have contracted the coronavirus delta variant in Erie county?

"We don't have that data yet," said Dr.Nielsen. "Originally we thought it was not going to be very common that there would be breakthrough infections in people who have been fully vaccinated. We now know we thought there would be rare breakthrough infections but we are seeing more and more of it. So that's why it's really important that everyone gets vaccinated."


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