A transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles that were isolated from a patient.
An image of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles from a transmission electron microscope.
(National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
COVID 2022

First Delta case confirmed in Santa Cruz with more ‘very likely’; officials renew vax calls

With undetected cases of the contagious COVID-19 variant “very likely” in Santa Cruz County, officials again reminded that being fully vaccinated provides strong protection against serious illness from the Delta and other variants.

Santa Cruz County health officials have confirmed that a case of the Delta variant, a mutated version of the virus that causes COVID-19, believed by scientists to be more transmissible, has been found in the county, prompting renewed calls for residents to get fully vaccinated.

The Delta case in Santa Cruz was found in a person who tested positive for the virus on June 10. Although this is the first case that has been detected, a statement from the county Tuesday morning said “it is very likely there are additional undetected cases of the Delta variant.”

There is some evidence that the Delta variant is able to infect vaccinated patients, especially partially vaccinated patients, more effectively than previous strains of the virus. But vaccination continues to provide very strong protection against serious illness for all variants including Delta.

Per local health data, just under 58% of all Santa Cruz County residents — a count that includes children under 12, who are not yet eligible — were fully vaccinated as of Monday, with 67.4% having had at least one dose.

“With the reopening of the economy and slowing vaccination rates, the introduction of a highly transmissible variant creates an especially worrisome situation,” Santa Cruz County Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci said in a statement from the county. “For those who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, your risk of serious illness is becoming more likely. The best way to reduce the risk for everyone — including residents not yet eligible to be vaccinated — is to seek a vaccine as soon as possible.”

The Delta variant, which was first identified in India, is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States and already represents 14.5% of all California cases, according to the Los Angeles Times, up from just 4.7% in May. The variant appears to be more transmissible than other variants of the virus — moving officials in Los Angeles County to recommend that all residents wear masks in indoor public spaces whether they’re vaccinated or not.

The Delta variant now makes up 14.5% of coronavirus cases analyzed so far this month in California, up from 4.7% in May.

The Santa Cruz County patient infected was a male in his 50s who self-reported being fully vaccinated, although the county hadn’t been able to confirm this information as of Tuesday morning. According to county communications officer Jason Hoppin, the patient experienced mild symptoms and made a quick recovery.

A recent study from Public Health England found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant two weeks after the second dose, and 33% effective against symptomatic disease three weeks after the first dose. Moderna said Tuesday its two-shot vaccine was also proving effective against the Delta variant, and there is not yet enough data on the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.