KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As the world continues to get back to normal, health officials remain hesitant as new COVID-19 variants start to spread, specifically regarding the delta variant as it is labeled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a variant of concern.

The delta variant is a version of the coronavirus that has been found in more than 80 countries, and it was first detected in India. The World Health Organization (WHO) gave it this name as it has been naming notable variants after letters from the Greek alphabet.

A variant is a mutated version of the virus, and the delta variant is reportedly more contagious and is more likely to cause severe illness. The CDC has listed attributes on what a variant of interest/concern looks like:


  • Specific genetic markers that are predicted to affect transmission, diagnostics, therapeutics, or immune escape
  • Evidence that it is the cause of an increased proportion of cases or unique outbreak clusters
  • Limited prevalence or expansion in the US or in other countries


  • Evidence of impact on diagnostics, treatments, or vaccines
    • Widespread interference with diagnostic test targets
    • Evidence of substantially decreased susceptibility to one or more class of therapies
    • Evidence of significant decreased neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination
    • Evidence of reduced vaccine-induced protection from severe disease
  • Evidence of increased transmissibility
  • Evidence of increased disease severity

Experts say the delta variant spreads more easily due to mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies. “The transition ability is unquestionably better, it is associated with disease severity reflected by hospitalization. The delta variant is the biggest threat in the U.S. in our attempt to get rid of COVID-19,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Around 27 cases have been reported in the state of Tennessee thus far, and health officials are urging more people to get the vaccine to stop the spread. Right now 46% of the U.S. population is vaccinated; Tennessee is still below that at around 35%.