Rob Stein

The highly contagious delta variant now accounts for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to new estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first detected in India and is spreading quickly across the globe.

And in parts of the U.S., the delta strain accounts for more than 80% of new infections, including some Midwestern states such as Missouri, Kansas and Iowa.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Patrick Doherty had always been very active. He trekked the Himalayas and hiked trails in Spain.

But about a year and a half ago, he noticed pins and needles in his fingers and toes. His feet got cold. And then he started getting out of breath any time he walked his dog up the hills of County Donegal in Ireland where he lives.

"I noticed on some of the larger hill climbs I was getting a bit breathless," says Doherty, 65. "So I realized something was wrong."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Dr. Anthony Fauci is calling the Delta variant the greatest threat to the nation's prospects for winning the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. NPR health correspondent Rob Stein joins us now with more details.

Updated June 22, 2021 at 4:25 PM ET

The dangerous Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading so quickly in the United States that it's likely the mutant strain will become predominant in the nation within weeks, according to federal health officials and a new analysis.

Pages