The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is in all 50 states now. The variant or mutation of the virus is responsible for an increase in the number of confirmed COVID cases and hospitalizations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Delta variant may be responsible for most COVID related deaths at the moment.

We don't know a lot about the Delta variant at this point, resulting in concern and confusion among the masses.

According to a Yale University study, the first known case of the Delta variant was in India in December. The mutant spread through Great Britain and was found in the United States in March of this year. Other strains of the virus have been reported in places such as Brazil, Great Britain, and South Africa.

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The Yale study suggests the Delta variant spreads quickly among those who have not been vaccinated. Younger children, currently not eligible for vaccination, might be at greater risk as well. Might be, as in they don't know for sure. The study also says the jury is still out as to whether the Delta variant is more aggressive or can make you sicker than the original strain.

There is still no solid answer as to whether the existing vaccines are entirely effective in protecting against the Delta variant. It appears as though the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may be. More study is needed on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There is some discussion that those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may require a booster shot, but that is not certain yet, either.

We still don't know enough about the so-called breakout cases, the cases of fully vaccinated people testing positive for COVID. It appears their symptoms are less severe, and there are fewer hospitalizations and deaths among breakout cases. But there are exceptions.

According to the Boston Herald and the DPH, there were some 5,100 breakout cases recorded in Massachusetts between mid-January and mid-June. Seventy-nine breakout cases resulted in deaths, 300 in hospitalizations. To put things in proper perspective, the number of breakout cases represents only about one-tenth of one percent of the roughly 4.2 million people immunized. We don't know why those people died but chances are they have some sort of pre-existing condition or weakened immune system.

Overall, the Yale study presents a cautiously optimistic picture of where we are at with all of this. We are far enough into the pandemic to understand what we need to do to keep ourselves safe. The media and politicians have politicized this health crisis beyond what anyone might have thought possible. Stay informed but try not to get caught up in the hysteria. We are on the downside and are almost out of this dark chapter.

The worst appears to be over.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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