President Joe Biden said it’s “unlikely” the COVID-19 Delta variant will force the U.S. into another lockdown but hesitated to rule it out on Friday.
“I don’t think so, because so many people have already been vaccinated,” Biden said during a Friday press conference when asked if the variant could prompt a new national shutdown. “But the Delta variant can cause more people to die in areas where people have not been vaccinated. Where people have gotten the two shots, the Delta variant is highly unlikely to result in anything.”
Biden stressed the need for more Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as the Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, spreads throughout the country.
He said the existing vaccines are very effective but said “some areas will be very hurt” by the variant if more people are not vaccinated.
Delta, the highly contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in India, is becoming the dominant strain of the disease worldwide, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said Friday.
The CDC also said the Delta variant has increased transmissibility and designated it as a “variant of concern” last month.
“This variant has been reported to spread more easily between people than other variants of the virus. Studies indicate that vaccines authorized for use in the United States are effective against this variant,” a CDC spokesperson previously told Newsweek.
Before Biden’s comments on Friday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told CNN that she “anticipates” the Delta variant will become the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S.
“People getting seriously ill and being hospitalized due to COVID-19 are those that have not been fully vaccinated. The new variant will leave unvaccinated people even more vulnerable than they are,” Biden said. “This is a serious concern, especially because of what experts are calling the Delta variant. It’s a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially deadlier and particularly dangerous for young people.”
Biden said the best way to protect yourself against these variants is to get fully vaccinated.