Delta variant behind greater than 80% of U.S. circumstances; vaccines nonetheless extremely efficient -Fauci By Reuters

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© Reuters. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate hearing on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in the Dirksen Senate Office building in Washington, DC, the United States, July 20, 2021. Stefa

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By Carl O’Donnell and Mrinalika Roy

(Reuters) – The delta variant of the coronavirus is the cause of more than 80% of new COVID-19 cases in the US, but the approved vaccines remain more than 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death, the said Leading US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci during the US Senate hearing on Tuesday.

The hearing included a pointed exchange with Republican Senator Rand Paul, in which he accused Fauci of lying about the National Institutes of Health, which is funding research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The Kentucky senator, who has argued with Fauci during several pandemic-related hearings, alleged that research may have played a role in the development of the novel coronavirus at the Wuhan Lab.

“If caught lying Congress, the US criminal code provides for a felony and a five-year sentence,” said Paul Fauci during the hearing.

Fauci, who was mostly calm and diplomatic in earlier replies, shot back this time: “Senator Paul, I’ve never lied before Congress … (and) you don’t know what you’re talking about.” The exchange included raised voices and pointed fingers.

The origin of the novel coronavirus has become a heated party topic in the United States, with Republicans pushing for further investigation into whether it was developed in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

In late May, Biden called on helpers to investigate the origins of the virus and contact him within 90 days. The more common theory is that the virus came from animals, possibly bats, and was transmitted to humans.

The more contagious Delta variant was first found in India earlier this year. It has since been the dominant version of the virus in the United States and many other countries. It has been detected in more than 90 countries around the world.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States averaged 239 a day for the past week, nearly 48% more than the previous week, the director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Rochelle Walensky, during the hearing.

States should continue to hold their stocks of unused vaccines as manufacturers work to determine the shelf life of their vaccines, Janet Woodcock, acting director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said during the hearing. Large amounts of unused US vaccine supplies are poised to expire in the coming weeks if shelf life is not extended.

The CDC is reviewing data from several groups of vaccinated people to determine how long protection from COVID-19 syringes will last and will use that information to determine the potential role of additional booster syringes, Fauci said.

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