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The CDC Says The Delta Variant Has Changed The War Against COVID-19

Family members gather outside the window of a COVID-19 patient at Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach, Mo., on Monday.
Image credit: Sarah Blake Morgan


An internal slide presentation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dated Thursday gives new details on how dangerous the delta variant really is.

One chart shows that it could be as contagious as chicken pox — which is one of the more transmissible viruses out there. It spreads more easily than the common cold, the 1918 flu and small pox.

The document was first obtained by The Washington Post.

It also says that in addition to being more contagious, the delta variant likely increases the risk of severe disease and hospitalization, compared to the original strain.

A summary slide says because of the delta variant, the agency should “acknowledge that the war has changed.” It also recommends the agency ramp up communications so that the public will understand that vaccines still greatly reduce the risk of death and severe disease.

While most new infections are still occurring among unvaccinated people, the CDC estimates that 35,000 fully vaccinated Americans – out of more than 162 million — may get infected with the coronavirus every week.

Data from a July 4 outbreak on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, appears to have led CDC Director Rochelle Walensky earlier this week to recommend fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors in public spaces if they live in areas where the spread of the virus is currently “substantial” or “high.”

In that outbreak, vaccinated and unvaccinated people had nearly the same amount of virus recovered from test samples, indicating that vaccinated people are just as contagious as unvaccinated people when it comes to the delta variant.

With previous strains, vaccinated people who became infected with the coronavirus had much lower levels of virus, meaning they were less contagious.

That may now have now changed.

CDC has promised to release detailed data from this outbreak soon.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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