An internal document about a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the mutated coronavirus strain, referred to as the Delta variant and dominating across the United States, seemed to be causing far more severe ailments for infected persons.
Aside from life-threatening illnesses, the same document — which is supposed to be made available Friday — also hinted at the Delta variant as spreading much faster than the chickenpox.
The document, which was published in The Washington Post ahead of the date that the CDC planned on releasing it, was confirmed as authentic by no less than CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Dr. Walensky issued a confirmation on the authenticity of the slide presentation, which outlined unpublished data manifesting on the possibility that fully-vaccinated people might spread the Delta variant at the same rate as unvaccinated people.
“I think people need to understand that we’re not crying wolf here. This is serious,” Dr. Walensky was quoted as saying in a television interview.
“It’s one of the most transmissible viruses we know about. Measles, chickenpox, this — they’re all up there,” she added as the CDC data conformed with Walensky’s controversial decision to change guidance for fully vaccinated people.
Dr. Walensky earlier recommended the use of protective masks even for fully vaccinated people indoors — including schools — where virus transmission is considered high.
The CDC director cited the need for students, staff and visitors to wear masks at all times.
“The measures we need to get this under control — they’re extreme. The measures you need are extreme,” Dr. Walensky said during the interview, adding that the data didn’t come in as surprising — “It was the synthesis of the data all in one place that was sobering.”
The CDC presentation hinted at the Delta variant as transmissible as chickenpox. The data categorically claimed that an infected person could actually infect with or nine other persons in close contact with the carrier.
CDC findings also tend to decimate other previous COVID-19 variants that shows an infected person’s ability to pass on the virus to two other persons.
“When you think about diseases that have an R0 of eight or nine — there aren’t that many,” Dr. Walensky said.
She also said that vaccinated people could actually infect other persons on the same level that unvaccinated persons do.
Dr. Walter Orenstein, head of the Emory Vaccine Center, said that the Delta variant gets to infect even the vaccinated persons, regardless of whether or not they have comorbidities.
“The bottom line was that, in contrast to the other variants, vaccinated people, even if they didn’t get sick, got infected and shed virus at similar levels as unvaccinated people who got infected,” Dr. Orenstein said.
If there’s something good that was discussed during the CNN program, it was the parting shot of Dr. Orenstein, who said that vaccinated people are safer.
“Vaccines prevent more than 90% of severe disease, but may be less effective at preventing infection or transmission,” he said. “Therefore, more breakthroughs and more communities spread despite vaccination.”
According to experts, vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease or death 10-fold and reduce the risk of infection three-fold.
The CDC research also cited three reports that indicate the Delta variant might cause more severe disease.
The recommendation of the CDC is for the government to seriously consider vaccine mandates and universal mask requirements even as it underscored the need for the government to “acknowledge the war has changed.”
In the United States, the daily infection average stood last week at 61,300 new cases representing a huge difference as to what have been recorded in the past.
“The number of cases we have now is higher than any number we had on any given day last summer,” Dr. Walensky noted.
“The one thing I will say is I’ve been heartened in the past couple of days to see more people taking action in response to the fact that it’s bad — more organizations, businesses, states, localities taking the action that’s needed to get us out of this,” Dr. Walensky quipped.
The CDC document delved on new “communication challenges” as an offshoot of breakthrough infections. It also cited the need to retool public health messaging to highlight vaccination as the best defense against the Delta variant.
President Joe Biden earlier announced a number of new steps his administration would do if only to compel Americans to have themselves vaccinated.
Part of Biden’s measures include requiring all federal employees to have themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 or to undergo regular COVID-19 testing to determine whether or not they’re fit to work.
“This is an American tragedy. People are dying — and will die — who don’t have to die. If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die,” Biden recently said during remarks at the White House.
“Read the news. You’ll see stories of unvaccinated patients in hospitals, as they’re lying in bed dying from Covid-19, they’re asking, ‘Doc, can I get the vaccine?’ The doctors have to say, ‘Sorry, it’s too late.'”