By Brooke Katz

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – New research shows the COVID-19 variant, first discovered in India, is growing in North Texas and across the country.

“Looking at the way the delta variant has accelerated here in the United States in the last three weeks, by far, this could be the predominant strain at the rate that we’re going at,” said Dr. Nikhil Bhayani, an Infectious Disease Specialist with Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance.

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He said the growing presence of the delta variant is reminder about why vaccines are important.

“It does put pressure on the local governments, the health departments,” Dr. Bhayani said. “Of course people in general need to be aware that this is why we want to get vaccinated.”

The latest data from researchers at UT Southwestern shows the alpha variant, also known as the UK variant, remains dominant in North Texas.

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It was found in about 60% of their sampled individuals, but that’s followed by a rise in the delta variant, now in more than 20% of those sampled.

“So thus far we’ve seen six cases in Dallas County,” said Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang. “We know it’s present, you know, and that it’s sort of a race to get as many people vaccinated and slow this down.”

While not a large number, Dr. Huang said it’s a concern, especially with restrictions easing and vaccination rates falling.

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“The greatest risk is for the people who have not received the vaccine, and so it is to their own peril to be going around without masks,” he said.