We’ve had multiple contagious diseases like chickenpox for years, but the delta variant of coronavirus seems more severe and lethal than any other. An internal federal health document says that the war has changed.
The document was in a presentation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It presents the struggle of the country’s major health agency trying to encourage people to keep faith in vaccination and follow preventive measures. As the number of cases keeps on increasing, experts suggest that vaccinated people are capable of spreading the virus.
The presentation slide works as an urgent note, emphasizing the importance of making people understand that vaccination works as the best defense against a variant that is even more powerful than the novel coronavirus, and it transmits from one person to another faster than common cold or Ebola.
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The document shows a combination of data obtained from outbreak studies and they say that vaccinated people can transmit the virus just as easily as unvaccinated people. People who are vaccinated and infected with the delta variant have similar viral loads compared with unvaccinated and infected people.
The chairman of the University of California’s Department of Medicine of San Francisco, Robert Wachter, said that he got more and more concerned as he finished reading it.
The data was so alarming, that the CDC scientists changed guidelines for vaccinated people even before revealing the new findings to the public. Regardless of the vaccination status, everyone should be masking up indoors in public settings. A federal health official said that they’ll reveal the data publicly on Friday. The director of CDC Rochelle Walensky called a Congress member’s meeting on Thursday to brief them on the document.
One slide among the presentation suggested a higher risk of hospitalization and death among older adults than younger. Another slide said that there are around 35,000 symptomatic infections every week among the vaccinated people, who are around 162 million.
The CDC faces a daunting task. It must continue its work encouraging people to get vaccinated while educating them that mild breakthrough infection is not that rare and vaccinated adults are still at a risk, although lower, and can transmit the virus just as easily.
The federal officer, who spoke anonymously as they were not authorized, said that even if rare, at an individual level, vaccinated people can still spread the virus. The document came two days after Walensky announced the guidance of masking up even for vaccinated people. On May 13, it was announced that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks indoors or outdoors. On the face of the delta variant, the guidance has reversed.
The presentation constitutes new science that advises a new strategy for building up communication as people do not put their faith in vaccination hearing about breakthrough cases, especially after experts have assured them they are rare.
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Wayne State University in Detroit’s Matthew Seeger said that lacking proper communication has proven to be problematic for the country. People may feel betrayed after officials assure them of high efficacy, and still hear vaccinated people getting infected.
Seeger said that officials have boasted to people about having miracle vaccines. They may have over-assured them which has now become a challenging situation.
The CDC’s amended mask guidance states that given higher transmission and the low rate in vaccination, universal masking is becoming important to curb the infection spread by the Delta variant.
The document says that vaccines indeed provide protection but they are working on improving communication at an individual level as the risk of transmission depends on the host’s characteristics like age and their immune system.