The Delta variant of the COVID-19, which now makes up 90 per cent of all new cases, is significantly more transmissible and more dangerous in terms of severity of illness that it causes, America's Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy said on Wednesday.
"We have seen how quickly it has taken over in the United Kingdom, where it's become - getting close to 100 per cent of new COVID cases, Delta. And we have seen a surge here too. So I am worried," Dr Murthy told MSNBC.
"I'm quite worried about the Delta variant. It is more transmissible, significantly more transmissible. It also may be more dangerous in terms of severity of illness that it causes," he said.
Dr Murthy said that he is worried about those people who have not been vaccinated so far.
"I'm worried about those who are not vaccinated, because what we have found is, based on the studies coming out of the UK, that if you are vaccinated, you are actually quite well-protected particularly against hospitalizations and deaths," he said.
"The worry is if you're not vaccinated, that you're at even greater risk than you were before. So, what I don't want to see is a growing divide in our country between the unvaccinated and vaccinated. We've got to close that gap. That's why we're working so hard to get people vaccinated everywhere," he said in response to a question.
So far, 65.4 per cent of Americans have received at least one dose, 55.9 per cent are fully vaccinated. The vaccination rate for age 12 and older is at 62.5 per cent, and over 18 years is at 65.4 per cent.
"Your level of risk, your kid's level of risk really depends on where you live and how high the community vaccination rates are. And this is why we always say - and I say this as a dad who's got two young kids, three and four, whose -... we don't have a vaccine available for kids that young. So, I'm worried about my kids, just like any other parents are," Dr Murthy said.
"This is why we say the vaccination effort is more about what you're doing for yourself. It's about the step you're taking to help protect those around you from getting infected, because even if you don't get seriously ill, you can transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable," Dr Murthy said.