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CDC: Delta variant expected to be dominant in US

While the delta variant is considered highly contagious and more deadly, the CDC director says getting vaccinated can help protect you from that variant.

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky says she expects the delta variant will become the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States. The delta variant, first detected in India, has become dominant in Britain.

“As worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work,” Walensky told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday. She encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and “you’ll be protected against this delta variant.”

The spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus will pose a serious risk this summer to people who are not fully vaccinated, according to Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.

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The Delta variant is highly contagious and more deadly, and may be more resistant to vaccines, he said. 

“If you have not gotten vaccinated, this is a potentially very dangerous time because the Delta variant is spreading,” Jha said Tuesday in the latest edition of the “COVID: What Comes Next” podcast hosted by The Providence Journal. “It’s about 6% of infections in the United States right now, doubling every two weeks. If you do the math, in about four to six weeks we’ll start getting close to half. … By mid-August, it’ll be the dominant variant in the United States.”

He added that vaccination is still the best defense.

Walensky, speaking on "Good Morning America," also discussed the upcoming meeting of an advisory committee to look at reports of heart inflammation among some 300 people under age 30 who received a coronavirus vaccine.

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“Over 200 million doses of vaccine have been given, and really, these events are really quite rare,” said Walensky, adding that heart issues generally improve with rest and standard medications.

On Thursday, the United States announced it was devoting $3.2 billion to speed the development of antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses that could turn into pandemics. 

RELATED: Fauci: US to spend $3.2B for antiviral pills for COVID-19

The new program will invest in “accelerating things that are already in progress” for COVID-19 but also would work to come up with treatments for other viruses, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. 

“There are few treatments that exist for many of the viruses that have pandemic potential,” he said, including Ebola, dengue, West Nile and Middle East respiratory syndrome.