Can vaccinated people spread the delta variant?
The new variant is causing an increase in covid-19 cases across the country but vaccinated individuals are far less likely to suffer any serious consequences if infected.
The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control suggests that the delta variant accounts for around 83% of newly sequenced covid-19 infections. This is a huge rise on the previous week and it is fuelling an increase in case numbers across all states.
There are also more reports of infection amongst vaccinated people with six Texas Democrats, an aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a White House advisor amongst those who have received the vaccine and yet still tested positive.
However while the number of infections is increasing across the board the evidence shows that those who are vaccinated are far less likely to suffer a serious illness, require hospitalisation or die as a result.
Vaccines are preventing the most serious cases of covid-19
Official figures from the White House released on 16 July show that there is a huge imbalance being the hospitalisation figures of vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans. Director of the CDC Dr Rochelle Walensky told reporters gathered: “over 97% of people who are entering the hospital right now are unvaccinated.”
Although vaccinated people can still catch and spread covid-19, their infections are overwhelmingly likely to be mild or entirely asymptomatic. These are known as breakthrough vaccinations, where the virus is able to surpass the defences strengthened by the vaccine.
Experts are not yet sure exactly why the delta variant is able to infect vaccinated people at a far higher rate than the original virus, but believe it may be related to the fact that those infected with delta may carry around a thousand times more of the virus in their system. This does not mean that they will get sicker, but may explain why they are more contagious and for longer.
Fauci suggests vaccinated people may consider wearing masks indoors
In response the growing rate of infection some local authorities and businesses have decided to implement their own mask mandates to combat the spread. The White House appears extremely unlikely to return to a national mask mandate but more vaccinated people may choose to wear one in crowded places to offer greater protection.
President Biden’s chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci gave an interview to CNBC on Wednesday in which he said: “If you want to go the extra mile of safety even though you’re vaccinated when you’re indoors, particularly in crowded places, you might want to consider wearing a mask.”
Fauci said he does not believe that officials will need to return to the nationwide mask mandate, but predicted “increased testing and increased local mandates and a big push to get people vaccinated.”