Acting state Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said Friday that the Alpha variant of COVID-19, which originated in the United Kingdom, had been the predominant strain of the coronavirus on the mainland but has been surpassed by the Delta variant.
“We are beginning to see a similar trend in Hawaii,” she told lawmakers Friday during an informational briefing of the state Senate Committee on Health and the state House Committee on Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness.
More cases caused by the Delta strain have been detected by the State Laboratories Division, Kemble said.
The Delta variant, which originated in India, was first detected in Hawaii in June and now has been identified on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island.
As reported previously, the Delta strain appears to be much more transmissible than earlier variants and is the first strain for which there is preliminary indication it might cause more severe disease.
“What we’re seeing, especially on the U.S. mainland, is in areas where vaccination rates are low, we’re seeing the Delta variant now uptick and even sweep through many of these communities,” Kemble said. “This is something we want to avoid, because where you have more COVID-19, you also have more severe outcomes of COVID-19, like hospitalization and even deaths. We’re seeing this happen in younger and younger populations, because these are the most unvaccinated populations.”
According to Kemble, currently approved vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson &Johnson prevent severe illness and death for all current variants of concern.
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