CNN  — 

The Delta variant may be on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the US, putting unvaccinated Americans at risk.

A new study shows the variant is associated with almost double the risk of hospitalization when compared to the Alpha variant – the current dominant strain in the US.

The Alpha variant, first found in the UK, is “stickier” and more contagious than the original strain of novel coronavirus. It became the dominant strain in the US this spring.

But the Delta variant appears to be even more transmissible and may cause more severe illness.

Right now, about 10% of Covid-19 cases in the US can be attributed to the Delta variant. That proportion is doubling every two weeks, Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said in a CBS interview Sunday.

He said the Delta variant will probably take over as the dominant strain of coronavirus in the US.

The good news is Americans can stave off the danger by getting vaccinated. But the Delta variant could pose a serious risk for states lagging in Covid-19 vaccinations.

“I think in parts of the country where you have less vaccination – particularly in parts of the South, where you have some cities where vaccination rates are low – there’s a risk that you could see outbreaks with this new variant,” Gottlieb said.

While 52.5% of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine, only 43.7% have been fully vaccinated, according to data Monday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Studies suggest those who are fully vaccinated have protection against the Delta variant.

“We have the tools to control this and defeat it,” Gottlieb said. “We just need to use those tools.”

New research shows the Delta variant may lead to more hospitalizations

The Delta variant – or the B1.617.2 strain first detected in India – has been linked to about double the risk of hospitalization compared to the Alpha variant first found in the UK, according to the preliminary findings of a Scottish study published Monday in The Lancet.