What you need to know about the delta variant in WNY

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jul 30, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y (WKBW) — The CDC announced last week that the delta variant now makes up more than 80 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

We asked the Co-Director of University at Buffalo’s Genome, Environment and Microbiome Community of Excellence, Jennifer Surtees, what Western New Yorkers need to know about the delta variant.

How do you know if you have the delta variant? Is there a test to prove you have the delta variant?

“The short answer is no. There is no test to specifically test for that,” Surtees said. “I think a good rule of thumb now is to assume if COVID is around, it is delta and it is transmissible.”

When did we first starting seeing the delta variant in WNY?

Surtees said they first detected the delta variant in Erie County in May.

“Because cases have been so low, we have not had anything to sequence recently,” Surtees said. “This week, we have a batch of cases from June and July finally. I predict we will see a fair amount of delta in that.”

Do I need to know what COVID-19 variant I contracted?

Surtees said the treatments are the same for all COVID-19 patients, so you don’t need to know.

"All the guidance is exactly the same as all of the other variants and non variants that we are concerned about,” Surtees said.

How did the delta variant get so contagious?

"One of the reasons it seems to be more transmissible is people have a bigger viral load,” Surtees said. “They have a lot more virus in them.”

Governor Cuomo announced this week that five labs in New York will help the state identify different COVID0-19 variants, and one of them is University at Buffalo’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Core.

“The profile of virus concerns that we have seen in Erie County is quite distinct than what we have seen down state,” Surtees said. “I think it is really important for us to have regional surveillance to know what is happening in our own community.”