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Indy health care professional explains delta variant’s power

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Scientists have known for months that delta variant is more contagious and causes more severe infection than the strains we’ve seen in the past. Now they are beginning to understand why.

Previous research shows the variant carries one thousand times more viral load in a person’s nasal cavity. It’s also 225% more transmissible. But the question remains: How did delta become the force that it is?

The answer: delta is a stealthy variant. The infection creeps up on a person — and fast. Especially the unvaccinated.

News 8 spoke with Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health, to explain why delta continues to dominate the U.S.

“It seems to have some unique properties that sneak past that first line of defense,” he said. “This is even happening in people who have been vaccinated. That combination of things — the higher concentration and the ability to kind of sneak in and start replicating before the immune system responds has led to this higher level of spread.”

The variant is capable of outpacing a person’s immune response, he says. The 24-hour window when the body can’t yet detect infection allows it to crank out replications of itself and rapidly spread from cell to cell.

Fortunately, Dohering says, when infection or re-infection occurs, a person’s body is triggered by an abundance of second line defense cells. If vaccinated, he says the delta infection will result most likely in a mild case of COVID-19.