for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

Fact Check-The Delta variant does exist, contrary to memes shared online

The Delta variant of the coronavirus does exist and has been identified in more than 100 countries, contrary to a viral online post.

One widely shared meme on Facebook shows former U.S. President Donald Trump holding up an executive order with text superimposed that reads: “The Delta variant is fake news” (here).

“I don’t believe any of it. They are just fueling the fire for the Democrats,” one social media user said in the comments. “I think so, too. Just another way to keep some people in fear. Go on with your life, people,” another individual added.

The Delta variant does exist, however, and all viruses naturally mutate over time (here).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant has been identified in 104 countries to date (here).

Data published by Public Health England (PHE) reports that Delta accounted for approximately 99% of sequenced cases from June 27 to July 3 (here) while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the Delta variant is more transmissible than previous strains (here).

“The variants have also not only been sequenced but have also been examined in labs both in cell culture as well as in animal models of infection,” Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor of Viral Pathogenesis at the University of Manitoba in Canada told Reuters in a previous interview.

“Not only were sequences identified in fall 2020 but we have also watched the variants of concern replace circulating strains in independent locations across the globe beyond the areas where they were first identified,” Kindrachuk added.

Changes in characteristics such as transmission, disease severity and immune evasion occur when a mutation starts to impact how the virus behaves (here).

The behavioral changes of a virus due to mutations can have a “direct impact on properties of the virus that potentially enhance its ability to transmit through our population” which can be through decreased ability to detect it or by increased spread from person to person.

“This is the issue that we’ve seen with Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta,” Kindrachuk told Reuters, referring to the four major variants of the coronavirus seen to date.

Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London told reporters in June that the Delta variant is estimated to be 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant (here) with the CDC also stating that the variant has higher transmissibility than previous strains (here).

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Delta variant is expected to represent 90% of all circulating SARS-CoV-2 in the European Union by September 2021 (here , here).

Reuters previously addressed the claim that the Delta variant is a ploy to force younger populations to get a COVID-19 vaccine (here).

VERDICT

False. The Delta variant does exist and has been identified in more than 100 countries.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up