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CDC: Delta Variant Spreads as Easily as Chicken Pox; More Severe

delta variant
The Delta variant is spreading quickly in Greece, and the unvaccinated are particularly vulnerable. Credit: Greek Reporter

An internal US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) document warns that the Delta variant of the coronavirus appears to spread as easily as chickenpox; not only that, but it also causes a more severe infection in those who contract it.

The slide presentation out of the CDC summarizes previously unpublished data that shows that those who are fully vaccinated might even spread the Delta variant of the coronavirus at the same rate as those who are unvaccinated.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who had previously warned that the US would undergo a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” confirmed the document’s authenticity, which was first revealed by The Washington Post.

The surprising news comes as states grapple with renewed masking mandates, and the federal government calls for mandatory vaccinations for workers, with draconian stipulations for those workers who refuse to be inoculated.

Vast majority of new Delta variant infections in unvaccinated

New outbreaks are occurring all over the US, with the vast majority of them in those who have refused to get the shot. In some areas, the rate of infection hovers between 98% and 99% of those who are unvaccinated.

At the same time, the issue of whether to get a third, or booster, shot of the vaccine is still on the table as the Pfizer corporation stated recently that they were indeed efficacious.

Their data shows that antibodies in those ages ages 18 to 55 increase by five times after getting a third dose of the vaccine.

The increase is even greater for older people ages 65 to 85, with eleven times as many antibodies in seniors who received a third shot. The data pool for these findings is currently limited to just twenty three people and has not yet gone through the extensive process of peer review.

The data was presented during a company earnings call this morning by Dr. Mikael Dolsten, who is the head of worldwide research, development and medical for Pfizer.

The nation of Greece is now inoculating all 12 to 15-year-olds and Israel is beginning its own campaign urging all eligible youngsters to get the shot, citing new outbreaks of the more infectious Delta variant.

Reinstated masking mandates are once again becoming a hot topic across the United States and the world, as scientists maintain that they help in stopping the spread of the virus although the vaccine offers a great deal of protection against all forms of it.

Even those who are fully vaccinated are now encouraged to wear masks in indoor public places in some states across the nation as a means of helping to limit the spread of the Delta variant to the unvaccinated.

The CDC is now recommending that everyone, including all students, staff and visitors, wear a mask in school this upcoming year, regardless of their own vaccination status.

Updated guidance, including new masking mandates, for fully vaccinated to fight Delta variant

Later today the CDC is expected to publish results from studies that will back Dr. Walensky’s decision to change the body’s guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated.

Earlier this week she said that the CDC now recommends that even fully vaccinated people mask up indoors in places where the transmission of the virus is known to be high. The new mandates may call for nationwide masking mandates, experts say.

“The measures we need to get this under control — they’re extreme. The measures you need are extreme,” Walensky told interviewers from CNN.

She added that the data in the report was not surprising, noting “It was the synthesis of the data all in one place that was sobering.”

The recently-revealed CDC slide presentation states plainly that the Delta variant is approximately as transmissible as chickenpox, a highly-transmissible disease of children.

On average, each chicken pox sufferer infects between eight or nine other people.

The original coronavirus had a transmissibility of approximately that of the common cold, with each infected case passing on the virus to two other people, on average. The rate of infectiousness is known as R0.

Walensky noted that “When you think about diseases that have an R0 of eight or nine — there aren’t that many.”

In an unwelcome new twist, the new research says that even duly-vaccinated people can carry as much virus in their bodies as unvaccinated people — even if they themselves do not have severe symptoms of the virus.

Unfortunately, this means they are just as prone to infect someone else as the unvaccinated people who become infected with the Delta variant.

Dr. Walter Orenstein, the chief of the Emory Vaccine Center, one of the people who actually saw the documents, told CNN “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.”

Still this does not mean that vaccinated people are at elevated risk of serious disease from the Delta variant themselves — a crucial selling point for the vaccine.

The document states that “Vaccines prevent more than 90% of severe disease, but may be less effective at preventing infection or transmission. Therefore, (there will be) more breakthrough and more community spread, despite vaccination.”

The slide show information indicates that vaccines indeed reduce the risk of severe disease or death by a multiple of ten times, and reduce the risk of infection by three times.

“The war has changed”

The CDC’s presentation includes data from three different reports that show that the Delta variant may indeed cause more severe disease in those it infects.

The presentation advises that the CDC itself must “acknowledge the war has changed,” recommending the unpopular vaccine mandates as well as reimposing universal masking requirements.

In the United States, which has large areas, particularly in the South, where there is widespread vaccine skepticism and hesitancy, there was an average of more than 61,300 new daily cases over the last week.

The US now has fewer vaccinated people than the EU, which for many months lagged behind the US in vaccination rates.

In June, the nation was enjoying a respite from the virus as vaccination rates up until then had continued to climb and the variant had not yet hit full force in the country.

Since then, infection rates have risen fairly steadily, as revealed by Johns Hopkins University data, from a 2021 low of 11,299 new cases on June 22.

JHU noted that as of Wednesday, the number of cases had risen in all but one state in the past seven days compared with the week prior.

CDC head Walensky noted on Friday that “The number of cases we have now is higher than any number we had on any given day last summer.

“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,” Walensky noted in the interview.

CDC falls down regarding releasing of breakthrough infection data

However, the slideshow was critical of the CDC itself when it came to the release and explication of information regarding the exact risk of breakthrough infections, an increasing area of concern for those who followed all the guidelines and duly received their shots as the CDC had recommended.

The CDC document discusses what it referred to as “communication challenges” regarding breakthrough infections, along with how the health authority must retool public health messaging to stress vaccination as the best protection against the Delta variant.

The slideshow information states that the agency must “improve (the) public’s understanding of breakthrough infections” and “improve communications around individual risk among vaccinated.”

On Thursday, President Biden had noted while announcing that all Federal workers must be vaccinated or face a raft of restrictions that “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 stated in his 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.’ “

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