NDDoH confirms presence of COVID-19 delta variant in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) announced today that it has confirmed the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has been detected in North Dakota. The case occurred in an adult who was not hospitalized.

“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.”

Early data is showing that mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) available in the United States are 88 percent effective against symptomatic infection and are highly effective in protecting against severe disease and hospitalizations due to illness caused by the delta variant.

“We are encouraging all North Dakotans who are eligible to receive the vaccine to choose to get vaccinated,” said Molly Howell, immunization director for the NDDoH. “The COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool we have to slow the emergence of this variant and all other variants of this virus. Data collected through the end of May indicates that unvaccinated North Dakotans are five times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 then those who are vaccinated. North Dakotans are encouraged to discuss COVID-19 vaccination with a trusted health care provider.”

To date surveillance for variants has detected 1078 variants of concern in North Dakota.

Ninety-seven variants of concern have been identified among people hospitalized and 10 variants among people who have died.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had previously classified the delta virus as a variant of interest, has now classified it as a variant of concern, indicating increased transmissibility, more severe disease, reduction in antibodies after infection or vaccination, decreased effectiveness of treatment, or potential for laboratory detection failures.

The CDC estimates that 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 predominant 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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