INDIANAPOLIS — There have already been a couple of cases of a new COVID-19 strain, the Delta variant, in Indiana. Local health experts expect that number to grow.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delta variant has been classified as a variant of concern. It first emerged in India and is a mutation in the virus.
"We're worried if it's more transmissible than some of the other versions of the COVID-19 virus that are circulating in the population and it also may cause people to go into the hospital more so than some of the other versions," Dr. Brian Dixon, director of public health informatics at the Regenstrief Institute, said.
Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president for medical affairs at Franciscan Health Central Indiana, said the Delta variant is more contagious and may cause more severe illness.
"The good news is it appears right now the vaccines we have are conferring good immunity, even against the new variant. The implications are most for people who aren't yet vaccinated or who don't have immunity for having had COVID in the past," Doehring said.
Dixon said right now, there is probably nothing extra the average person who isn't vaccinated needs to do besides things like masking and social distancing.
Dixon says 2% of new cases in the U.S. are the Delta variant.
"It's expected to grow over time, which is why it's a variant of concern, but right now it is not the dominant strain that's circulating in our country or in [Indiana]," Dixon said.
The Indiana State Department of Health says some Delta variants have been identified through sequencing, where states submit randomized samples for variant testing to see what strain of the virus is present.