ND Health Department: COVID-19 delta variant confirmed in the state

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The North Dakota Department of Health said Thursday it has confirmed the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus in North Dakota. The case occurred in an adult who was not hospitalized.

This is the fifth “variant of concern” detected in North Dakota to date. That means there are five versions of COVID-19 in the state that the Centers for Disease Control has associated with increased transmissibility, more severe disease, reduction in antibodies after infection or vaccination or decreased effectiveness of treatment, among other factors.

“This variant is more easily transmitted from person to person and early data is indicating that this variant can cause serious disease, especially in those who are not vaccinated,” said Kirby Kruger, disease control and forensic pathology section chief for the NDDoH. “This variant, because of its increased infectivity, is predicted to become the predominate virus variant circulating in the United States. Additionally, early evidence from a laboratory setting is showing that previous infection with COVID-19 may not protect against this variant.”

The health department says early data suggests the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective in protecting against the delta variant.

“We are encouraging all North Dakotans who are eligible to receive the vaccine to choose to get vaccinated,” said health department immunization director Molly Howell. “The COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool we have to slow the emergence of this variant and all other variants of this virus.”

According to the state health department, below are the five variations of COVID-19 that have been detected in North Dakota to date, along with where the CDC says they were first initially detected:

Variant LineageWorld Health Organization LabelNumber in NDPercent
B.1.1.7Alpha (first detected in the United Kingdom)94187.3%
B.1.427/B.1.429Epsilon (first detected in California)10810.0%
P.1Gamma (first detected in Brazillian travelers at a Japan airport)262.4%
B.1.351Beta (first detected in South Africa)2<1%
B.1.617.2Delta (first identified in India)1<1%
Totals 1078100%

According to the state health department, data collected through the end of May indicates unvaccinated North Dakotans are five times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated.

The CDC estimates nearly 32 percent of the variants in Region VIII, which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, are the delta variant. The predominate variant in Region VIII and in North Dakota remains the alpha variant also known as the United Kingdom variant or B.1.1.7.

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