Temple University doctor weighs-in on rise of COVID cases

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Federal health officials report that the current upswing in new COVID-19 cases is now affecting Americans who are not inoculated.

Dr. Thomas Fekete, professor and chair of medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple, says there are two things everyone needs to understand.

First, COVID is not going anywhere. And second, COVID variants are inevitable.

"If you just think back to the annual flu shots you've been getting, those all been variations of the influenza virus that have been progressive over hundreds if not thousands of years," said Fekete.

He says if the remaining question is the best way to contain the coronavirus, many should already have an answer.

There has been a lot of recent discussion about "breakthrough infections," defined as fully vaccinated people testing positive for COVID-19.

RELATED: Delta variant quickly spreading; Delaware Valley sees increase in COVID-19 cases

But Fekete says not only was that expected, but those who do become infected, despite being inoculated, still tend to be much less likely to die or even be hospitalized.

That includes people infected with the Delta variant.

According to the CDC, as the Delta variant now accounts for more than 83% of new COVID cases. The unvaccinated account for 99% of COVID-related deaths.

"Hopefully, we will be smart enough to take advantage of these amazing vaccines that are out there already and they are free," said Fekete.

Action News spoke with people in Philadelphia, who say despite new variants, they are cautiously optimistic that medical science has the upper hand on the pandemic.

"My comfort level is really free now because I got Pfizer," said Eladio Shaw of Norwood. "And I always keep my mask on me."

Carolyn Burton of West Philadelphia said, "I feel a little more comfortable. I've been vaccinated, so I am a little more comfortable because at least they are able to identify what this thing is."

As of this week, statistics show just under half of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated.

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