Delta Variant FAQs

Texas Case Counts microscopic example of a coronavirus

Below are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

How can I tell if I have the Delta variant? Do labs report that to the state?

That information may not be readily available. The viral tests that are used to determine if a person has COVID-19 are not designed to tell you what variant is causing the infection. Detecting the Delta variant, or other variants, requires a special type of testing called genomic sequencing. Due to the volume of COVID-19 cases, sequencing is not performed on all viral samples. However, because the Delta variant now accounts for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States, there is a strong likelihood that a positive test result indicates infection with the Delta variant.

Are the symptoms different for the Delta variant? If so, what are they?

Because Delta is a variant of the same virus—SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID 19—the symptoms and the emergency warning signs are the same. However, some variants may spread more easily or may cause more severe symptoms and illness. Because of this, scientists are actively monitoring and studying these variants to learn more about how easily they spread, whether they make people more or less sick, and how well they respond to existing vaccines, treatments, and tests.

Is Texas tracking the Delta variant?

Yes. Public health officials at the federal, state, and local levels continue to study variants, monitor their spread, develop strategies to slow their spread, and test how variants may respond to existing therapies, vaccines, and testing. For information on variants of concern in Texas, see the News Updates > COVID-19 Variants section of the DSHS website. However, because sequencing is performed on only a small sample of positive test results, there are more variant cases in Texas than have been reported to DSHS.

Who is most at risk of contracting the variant?

Unvaccinated people are most at risk of contracting COVID-19, including any of its variants. The Delta variant is more aggressive than other known variants and spreads most rapidly in communities with fewer fully vaccinated people.

The absolute best protection for yourself and those close to you is getting fully vaccinated. The vaccine is proven to safely protect you from COVID-19’s worst effects and lowers your chances of spreading the virus. Greatly increasing the number of fully vaccinated Texans is the only way to prevent a devastating rise in the spread of the pandemic virus.

Is the Delta variant worse than the other COVID-19 strains? Will it make me sicker than the other strains?

Delta appears to be worse than the other strains. It spreads more easily than other known variants, which means it’s more contagious than other variants. Also, Delta may put infected people at higher risk of hospitalization than other variants.

What’s the treatment for patients with the Delta variant?

Treatment options are available for all variants of COVID-19. If you or a loved one is sick, check with your healthcare provider about your specific case.

Do the same rules apply for travel as they did for the original COVID-19 strain?

Yes. Travel recommendations may vary depending on whether you are fully vaccinated or not. Some travel destinations may have different requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Keep in mind that travel and other guidance may change as we learn more about the virus variants and breakthrough cases. Stay up to date with CDC travel recommendations by visiting the Travel page of the CDC website.

Are people of certain ages at more risk for the Delta variant than others?

Yes. Children up to 11 years old are more at risk of contracting Delta and other variants because they are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who is old enough and able to get the vaccine should do so to protect those who are unable to get it, as well as those for whom the vaccine is less protective. That includes children under age 12 and people with certain medical conditions.

How many known variants are there?

There are many. Because viruses constantly change through mutation, new variants occur all the time. Sometimes they disappear, and sometimes they persist. Variants are classified in three ways, from least to most severe: Variants of Interest, Variants of Concern, and Variants of High Consequence.

Public health officials are currently studying four that are classified as Variants of Concern: Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma. These are variants that show evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (increased hospitalizations or deaths), and/or reduced effectiveness of tests, treatments, or vaccines.

In the U.S., there are currently many Variants of Interest and no known Variants of High Consequence.

To learn more about variants in the U.S., visit the About Variants of the Virus, Variant Classification, and Variant Surveillance pages on the CDC website.

To learn more about the Delta variant, see the Delta Variant: What We Know About the Science page on the CDC website.

What are the differences between the variants?

Variants vary by their genetic markers. These differences in genetic markers may affect how easily the virus is spread, the severity of illness, how well existing tests can detect the virus, the effectiveness of treatments and vaccines, and more.

Each variant is slightly different. Think of variants like branches on a tree. Each branch is slightly different than others on the tree, but they have similarities, too. Scientists study the differences in COVID-19 variants, so they can label and track them according to those differences.

Do the vaccines protect against the Delta variant?

Studies have shown that the available vaccines are effective against disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant. The best protection against any COVID-19 variant is getting fully vaccinated.

Which vaccine provides better protection against the virus?

Public health experts say the best vaccine is the one you can get. Each one has been proven safe and effective in clinical trials.

Keep in mind that guidance may change as we learn more about the virus variants. DSHS will update information as it becomes available.

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This page is being updated as new information becomes available.

Last updated September 20, 2021