Tech & Science dictionary

Delta variant

or delta variant or Delta Variant [ del-tuh vair-ee-uhnt ]

What does Delta variant mean?

The Delta variant is a variant of the COVID-19 virus. Delta variant is the common name used to refer to what is technically known as the B.1.617.2 variant.

A variant of a virus is a new strain that has emerged due to a mutation (or mutations) in the virus’s genetic structure.

The Delta variant is a more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus that spread rapidly after its emergence.

Use of the name Delta variant became widespread in news reports and public health communications in the spring and summer of 2021 as experts warned that it posed a severe public health threat, especially to unvaccinated populations.

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Related words

coronaversary, "Happy Birthday" song, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, syndemic, long-hauler

Where does Delta variant come from?

The Delta variant is believed to have emerged in India in late 2020. It was first detected in the US in March 2021. In the name Delta variant, the word delta refers to the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. The name was used by the World Health Organization (WHO) because the Delta variant was the fourth major variant of COVID-19 to be identified. (Other major variants were named Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, after the first three letters of the Greek alphabet.)

The name Delta variant came to be well-known in 2021 due its increased contagiousness, often being discussed in the context of efforts to increase vaccination rates in order to contain its rapid spread. Studies at the time showed that existing vaccines are largely effective against the Delta variant and other variants of COVID-19.

Examples of Delta variant

So much sideye [sic] for the people (admittedly a minority) riding the subway without masks. Delta variant, folks.
@farai, July 2, 2021
The infectious Delta variant has become California’s most identified strain of the coronavirus, a troubling development that underscores the strain’s danger to unvaccinated populations.
Rong-gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2021

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Who uses Delta variant?

The name Delta variant is the most common way to refer to the COVID-19 variant that’s technically known as B.1.617.2. It’s widely used by health experts and in media reports.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of Delta variant like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Delta variant that will help our users expand their word mastery.