By Michelle Baran | August 6, 2021
Should you change or cancel upcoming trips? How can travelers best protect themselves? Infectious disease and travel industry experts weigh in.
It was the quote heard around the country: “The war has changed.” That was how the CDC described the current threat posed—including to vaccinated individuals—by the now-dominant Delta variant of coronavirus in an internal presentation that surfaced in media reports on July 29. And our collective response was, “But what does that mean?”
The “Delta variant is a game changer,” explains Pia MacDonald, an infectious disease epidemiologist and the senior director of applied public health research at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute. “There are things that have shifted dramatically in terms of the pandemic.”
According to MacDonald and other infectious disease experts, there are several reasons why the Delta variant has changed the pandemic landscape so severely.
“One is that it is much more transmissible,” says MacDonald. “As in one person is at higher risk of transmitting it to 5 to 10 people. The earlier variants, those were less transmissible. One person would likely spread it to 1, 2, or 3 people. So there’s more risk of it amplifying quicker, meaning that the outbreaks can grow much faster.”
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