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How do you know if you have the delta variant of COVID-19?

EMS technician Emmanuel Orrego, left, administers the COVID-19 PCR test to Yosdany Lugo, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Miami. Florida accounted for a fifth of the nation’s new infections last week, more than any other state, according to the CDC. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

(NEXSTAR) – So you’ve tested positive for COVID – but which COVID exactly? Is there a way to tell if you have the highly transmissible delta variant?

There is a way to tell, but there’s not really a way for you to tell. Test results from a PCR or antigen test you might take at a testing site or in a take-home kit will only tell you if you’re positive or negative for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control can take those samples from your nose swab or saliva test and sequence its genome to figure out what variant of the virus you have. Sequencing can happen days or even weeks later, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California San Francisco.

They do this to study how quickly the virus is mutating and which variants are becoming dominant in different parts of the country. However, they’re not typically sharing this information with the people whose samples are sequenced, the New York Times reports.

That being said, if you’re testing positive for coronavirus in the summer of 2021, you likely have the delta variant. The CDC estimates 83% of current cases in the United States are delta.

“Right now, we are assuming any new case is Delta given the high probability,” said Chin-Hong. The variant type also doesn’t determine what type of treatment patients receive in the hospital, he added.

Delta variant or not, if you have COVID-19, the recommendations are the same: stay home, isolate yourself from others, call your doctor and monitor your symptoms.


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