BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A fourth COVID variant is spreading rapidly in some parts of the world and experts are saying anyone who isn’t vaccinated yet is at a higher risk of getting it.

The Delta variant is now the dominant strain in the United Kingdom. It only represents a small fraction of new cases here in the U.S. but experts said it is something to keep an eye on because it can spread a bit easier and is harder to treat.

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“For me, it’s just trying to be as precautious as possible to protect myself and my family,” said Anthony Johnson, Patterson Park. The variant was first detected in India and has been spreading rapidly in Britain and the U.K.

However, experts said the vaccine is still effective for the Delta variant. “So, the vaccines are still very protective but we do think that there’s a slightly lower protection rate,” said Dr. Christopher Thompson, Loyola University Maryland.

Dr. Christopher Thompson at Loyola University Maryland said the data is still emerging but said most studies suggest the vaccines are slightly less protective.

The Delta variant has been found in the U.S. as well as in Maryland. Nationwide it represents about 6 percent of new cases.

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“It’s a much smaller overall number of infections but it is something we need to keep our eye on just because it can spread more,” said Dr. Thompson.

The U.S. surgeon general said those people not yet vaccinated are most susceptible.

“For those we are unvaccinated, they are increasingly at risk as more and more variants develop,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General.

Maryland’s covid numbers are at their lowest point which opened the door for fewer restrictions. However, covid variants have the potential to disrupt that.

“I feel like things are starting to appear to be a little bit more normal. I don’t necessarily think they’ll ever be the same,” said Rachel Gussman, Patterson Park.

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Dr. Thompson also told WJZ that research shows that anyone who is immunocompromised does not necessarily respond as well to the covid vaccine. So, people have to be especially careful around family and friends with preexisting conditions.

Rachel Menitoff