Delta variant ‘increasing’ in Kansas, health officials say. Here’s what to know

Coronavirus

TOPEKA (KSNT) — A highly contagious strain of coronavirus that was first identified in India, also known as the Delta variant, is becoming more prevalent in Kansas, according to state health officials.

A spokesperson for the state’s department of health and environment said the variant is “increasing” in an email to Kansas Capitol Bureau on Monday.

The Delta variant is increasing. The important thing to note is that COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States offer protection against most variants currently spreading in the United States.

KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT

As of Monday, 1,460 coronavirus cases have been identified with a “variant of concern.” According to the CDC, these variants show evidence of an increase in transmissibility or being easily spread from one person to another. The variants also show more severe disease indicated by increased hospitalizations or deaths.

According to the state’s health department, 110 of the 1,460 cases have been identified as the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, a highly contagious strain that was first identified in India.

Another characteristic of variants of concern is a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination and reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines or diagnostic detection failures.

While some health officials, like Dr. Dana Hawkinson, a medical director at the University of Kansas Health System said some variants might cause illness in some people even after they are fully vaccinated, these illnesses are likely to be mild.

“What we do know is that vaccination continues to offer very good immunity and immune response to these variants,” he said.

Hawkinson said a large portion of patients that he’s seen have not been vaccinated, along with an increase in severe cases among younger patients. He said the increase was due to fewer vaccinations among younger age groups, which the state has been working to address.

“We are seeing more and more younger patients now needing hospitalization, and have to go to the ICU, and developing problems that could be 100% preventable, if they were to get vaccinated,” Hawkinson said.

State numbers show 60 of Kansas’s 105 counties have been impacted by coronavirus variants. Forty-seven cases have been identified with “variants of interest.”

For more information on variant cases in the state, click here.

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