The best ways to protect against the delta variant

As what we know about COVID-19 evolves, so could the information contained in this story. Find our most recent COVID-19 blog posts here.

About 100% of the COVID-19 cases we’re now seeing in our community are from the delta variant of COVID-19. It’s a version of the virus that differs from previous versions by being far more contagious.

How much more contagious is the delta variant? 

When we test people, what we’re seeing is that they have about 1,000 times higher of a concentration of virus in their mouth and nose than they did with the previous dominant strain of COVID-19.

What that means: Because the virus is transmitted by droplets coming from one person’s mouth and/or nose and reaching another person’s mouth and/or nose, it takes a smaller amount of those droplets to infect the other person.

The delta variant really has been a game-changer in terms of the risk of someone being infected with COVID-19 when they’re unprotected.

The two best ways to protect yourself against the delta variant

1. Get vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly effective against the delta variant in preventing severe disease, pneumonia or hospitalization. You might get a mild case of COVID-19 even if you’re vaccinated, but it’s still far better than getting really sick, requiring oxygen and/or hospitalization. The FDA approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may also alleviate some people’s concerns about vaccine safety, as the full approval takes into account more than six months of participant monitoring, after more than 170 million people in the United States have been vaccinated against COVID-19 (92 million of whom received the Pfizer vaccine).

2. Wear a face mask

Wearing a face mask protects those around you, particularly if you are unaware that you’re carrying the virus. But it will also protect you if you’re around someone else who’s infected, doesn’t know they’re infected and is at risk of spreading that virus to you.

To find the closest vaccination location near you, visit

Andrew Thomas is chief clinical officer of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and senior associate vice president for health sciences at The Ohio State University.