If you haven’t already been exposed to the Delta variant of COVID-19, it’s so contagious and spreading so quickly that you will probably be exposed soon.

That’s the opinion of Dr. Danny Avula, who is leading Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. 

“The bulk of our population will likely be exposed to the Delta variant at some point in the next few months,” Avula said. “They’re either going to be exposed to it fully vaccinated or they’re not.”

Avula’s comments came during a media briefing Tuesday by state health officials on the spread of the Delta variant and the state’s response.  

After falling to minimal numbers in late spring and early summer, the pandemic has roared back with a vengeance in Virginia. As of Wednesday, the state is averaging over 1,733 new cases a day, the most since Feb. 27 and 61.9% more than on the same date in 2020, when no vaccine was available.   About 80% of the cases in Virginia are now the Delta variant, health officials said, based on testing of a limited number of samples. 

Although over 70% of Virginia adults have been vaccinated, Avula and other health officials said that because Delta is so contagious – anywhere from two to four times more so than prior variants of coronavirus – vaccination rates will actually have to be much higher to achieve “herd immunity.”

And, Avula said, the Delta variant won’t be COVID’s last gasp.

“COVID is not going to go away after the Delta variant,” he added. “We are likely to see future variants and we are going to have to learn how to live with this disease.”

He said COVID vaccines will probably become like the flu shot, with booster shots required annually to tackle new strains as the virus mutates. Each variant is trying to survive and evade the vaccine, he added. “The Delta variant is doing a slightly better job at that.” 

Avula said that the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 will probably receive emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in September, slightly earlier than previous projections.  

Also within the next few weeks, he expects the FDA to give full licensure to the vaccines for adults, which were approved on an emergency basis late last year.  When that happens, he said, vaccine requirements by employers and venues will become even more commonplace. 

The FDA is also expected to decide soon whether to authorize a third, booster shot of the earlier vaccines for immuno-compromised individuals, he added. 

Avula acknowledged that the current vaccines appear to not be quite as effective against the Delta variant, but are still generally preventing serious cases.  “We’re going to need to follow the science and understand is that because vaccines are less effective than we thought?” he said. 

However, overall, the state reports that since Jan. 1, only 1.5% of all new cases have occurred in fully vaccinated individuals.  

Dr. Lilian Peake, the state’s epidemiologist, said the state is tracking the so-called breakthrough cases by asking individuals with positive COVID tests whether they were vaccinated or comparing case data with state vaccination records.  The state is also reporting the cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with information about which vaccine the individuals received.

However, the health department stopped providing the ability on its dashboard for the public to see how the percentage of breakthrough cases has changed over time and whether it’s increasing with the Delta variant.  

Peake said the state wanted to focus the dashboard on the rate of people who test positive after being vaccinated vs. those who are not vaccinated.  “We want to make sure that we’re presenting data that conveys risk accurately.”

She added that as more people are vaccinated there will be more breakthrough cases. “That doesn’t mean that the vaccines aren’t working. The vaccines do work for all the variants that are circulating in the United States, including Delta.”

While the state’s data show that most Northern Virginia localities have some of the highest vaccination rates in the state, the percentages are actually probably even higher, Avula said.  That’s because information on vaccines administered to Virginians by the federal government, over 448,000 doses, is not yet available by locality.  


Bruce Potter is Publisher of InsideNoVa. He can be reached at bpotter@insidenova.com

(13) comments

Comment deleted.
Jimi Weaver

Name-calling and personal insults are the last resort of someone who came to a battle of intellect with no other ammunition.

Comment deleted.
John Dutko

And we all greatly appreciate your humble and wise insights. Such a gentleman and a scholar! I bet you mingle with the high society crowd regularly, given your illustrious viewpoints that ring true with your peers.

I look forward to your comments with great interest.

Kermit Robat

A healthy unvaccinated 8 year old is less likely to die from covid than a healthy fully vaccinated 65 year old. Change my mind.

John Dutko

All a vaccinated person has to do to win this argument is wait.

Kermit Robat

There have been 1200 covid fatalities in fully vaccinated adults. These have all occurred since January 1st, 2021. As of today, there have been 354 covid deaths in individuals under the age of 18 (per the CDC) going back to March 2020.


As of July 31st, covid hospitalization rates in the 65+ demographic are 16x the hospitalization rates in the 5-17 demographic and 80% of the 65+ demographic is fully vaccinated and 90% has at least one dose, per the CDC:



Duke Nukem

How are those numbers looking in California? I know you were very concerned with the FL and TX numbers.

Comment deleted.
John Dutko

Body armor doesn't make a difference to a cop. Cops should not wear body armor as it impedes movement.

Change Craford

Dr. Faucci and the other scientist has proven you wrong Bill. You aren't a scientist nor a doctor and should just keep your comments to yourself. I bet you have been vaccinated already just like a lot of the other folks you listen to like Trump, DeSantis, Hannity and Carlson. Remember, you and your children already has vaccinations in your bodies and no side-effects either. Wake up and stop lying to yourself and others.

Comment deleted.
Tom Manson

Not true! People are generally unmasked and spreading it, which is why the mask mandates are coming back. Masks have never been foolproof, just helping reduce the spread.

The hospitalized cases are well over 90% unvaccinated - so with the vaccine, if you catch it, you are far less likely to end up in the hospital or dead.

Comment deleted.
John Dutko

I hope you are smart enough to figure this out on your own after a year. You can look at multiple countries across the globe and figure out the data of mask vs no mask and vaccinated vs unvaccinated.

Or you can be a macho person with your open nose and throat.

Bill Rio

Here is some actual science for you.

When a virus mutates it ALWAYS becomes more contagious. Do you know what else happens? It ALWAYS becomes less deadly.

Jimi Weaver

You really need to start getting your science information from somewhere other than OANN & Newsmax because your statement is flat out untrue.

Virus mutations are almost always more deadly, not less.

Kermit Robat

I'm not taking a position one way or the other regarding trends for viruses to evolve into more or less deadly strains. But if you think for a moment about your assertion that viruses tend to evolve to become more deadly what should that imply for the seasonal flu (influenza) which has been around for several thousand years? Yet it's less deadly (for most demographics, except children) than covid.

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