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These Are Your Odds of Contracting Delta Now

If you are vaccinated it may be smaller than you think.

The messaging surrounding COVID precautions and vaccination has been criticized as confusing. That's partly because the pandemic is evolving in real time, and scientific evidence is incomplete or changing, and partly because some of that evidence hasn't been put in the proper context. One recent poll found that nearly half of Americans believe their odds of getting sick from coronavirus is moderate or high, even though 75% of respondents are vaccinated. This week, The New York Times explained why that perception is a serious overestimate, and unpacked your true odds of contracting the Delta variant now. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


Here Are Your Odds of Contracting Delta

Waiter coughing into elbow while serving customers in a restaurant.

The chance of the average vaccinated American contracting COVID is about 1 in 5,000 per day, and probably lower if you take additional precautions (like wearing a face mask) or live in a highly vaccinated area, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

To arrive at that figure, the Times looked at cases in three areas that reported infection rates by vaccination status—Utah, Virginia and King County in Washington State. The Times writer, David Leonhardt, noted that the risk would be higher in COVID hotspots but probably even lower (as low as 1 in 10,000) in highly vaccinated areas like San Francisco.

"Here's one way to think about a one-in-10,000 daily chance: It would take more than three months for the combined risk to reach just 1 percent," wrote Leonhardt. 

RELATED: 4 Sure Ways to Avoid Delta Now, Says Virus Expert


For The Unvaccinated, The Risk Is Higher

Patient refuses to take vaccination.

The Times noted that infection rates are nearly four times higher in the least vaccinated states than in the most vaccinated states.

"If the entire country had received shots at the same rate as the Northeast or California, the current Delta wave would be a small fraction of its current size," wrote Leonhardt. "Delta is a problem. Vaccine hesitancy is a bigger problem."

RELATED: Delta Symptoms Usually Appear in This Order


The Price of Breakthrough Infections

woman in a hospital waiting room - wearing face mask

Leonhardt noted one issue with breakthrough infections among the vaccinated: "It's not clear how much we should be worrying about them."

The infections are usually mild and often resemble the flu. "In Britain, many people have become comfortable with the current COVID risks," he wrote. "The vaccines make serious illness rare in adults, and the risks to young children are so low that Britain may never recommend that most receive the vaccine. Letting the virus continue to dominate life, on the other hand, has large costs."

RELATED: The One Sure Sign You Already Had Delta


Here's a Big Reason to Get Vaccinated

woman with surgery protective mask on her face is driving car.

"In reality, the risks of getting any version of the virus remain small for the vaccinated, and the risks of getting badly sick remain minuscule," wrote Leonhardt.

"In Seattle on an average recent day, about one out of every one million vaccinated residents have been admitted to a hospital with COVID symptoms. That risk is so close to zero that the human mind can't easily process it. My best attempt is to say that the COVID risks for most vaccinated people are of the same order of magnitude as risks that people unthinkingly accept every day, like riding in a vehicle."

RELATED: Dr. Gupta Has These Two Messages For All Americans


How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow public health guidelines and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live. Get vaccinated ASAP. If you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered. Don't travel. Practice social distancing, avoid large crowds, practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael