Anyone who wants to lessen their chances of contracting the coronavirus, and anyone wishing to avoid potentially spreading the new Delta variant, should wear a mask and get vaccinated … at the least.
In an alarming reveal by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency “acknowledged the war has changed” in the fight to end the pandemic. The now widely reported CDC internal memo states that fully vaccinated individuals can spread the deadly Delta variant at the same rate as unvaccinated people.
“I think people need to understand that we are not crying wolf,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a televised interview. “It is one of the most transmissible viruses we know about. Measles, chickenpox – they are all up there,” Dr. Walensky asserted.
CDC officials revealed that the Delta variant “is about as transmissible as chickenpox, with each infected person, on average, infecting eight or nine others.” The original lineage was about as transmissible as the common cold, with each infected person passing the virus to about two other people on average, the CDC concluded. That infectivity is known as R0.
“When you think about diseases that have an R0 of eight or nine—there aren’t that many,” Walensky told CNN. And if vaccinated people get infected anyway, they have as much virus in their bodies as unvaccinated people, the network noted. That means they’re as likely to infect someone else as unvaccinated people who get infected.
The news is bleak for People of Color already disproportionately affected by the pandemic. According to a study performed by the Associated Press, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are two to three times more likely than white people to die of COVID-19.
The report’s authors expressed perplexity because they said because Blacks and Hispanics are younger on average than Whites, it would stand to reason that they would be less likely to die from a disease that has been brutal to the elderly.
But that’s not what is happening, the AP researchers determined. The analysis found that Latinos are dying at much younger ages than other groups.
Thirty-seven percent of Hispanic deaths were under 65, versus 12% for White Americans and 30% for African Americans. Hispanic people between 30 and 39 have died five times the rate of White people in the same age group.
Still, the CDC found that those vaccinated remain safer. “Vaccines prevent more than 90% of severe disease but may be less effective at preventing infection or transmission,” the CDC memo read. “Therefore, more breakthrough and more community spread despite vaccination.”
According to the memo, vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease or death 10-fold and minimize the risk of infection three-fold. The presentation also noted that the Delta variant likely causes more severe disease. The memo recommends vaccine mandates and universal mask requirements.
The CDC concluded that the latest virus surge has centered in locations with the least amount of vaccinations. The virus is once again surging across the U.S.—especially in areas where fewer people are vaccinated. “The number of cases we have now is higher than any number we had on any given day last summer,” Walensky told CNN.
— Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.