The delta variant of COVID-19 spreads as easily as chickenpox and is more transmissible than Ebola, the common cold and the 1918 Spanish Flu, according to an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document obtained by The Washington Post.
The delta variant is surging in Alabama and across the U.S., as the pace of new cases and hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide surpasses the speed at which cases and hospitalizations ramped up during the beginning of Alabama’s deadly winter surge.
The as-of-yet unpublished data behind the document was cited by the CDC on Tuesday as the reason behind updated mask guidance recommending that vaccinated people in areas of “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 transmission wear masks when in public indoor settings, and that all teachers, staff and students older than two in K-12 schools wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
All but six Alabama counties are considered at high risk of COVID-19, with four deemed substantial risks and just two considered moderate risks, according to the CDC.
That new data on the delta variant, which The Washington Post reported would be published on Friday, shows that viral loads carried by the vaccinated are approximately as high as those carried by the unvaccinated, meaning the vaccinated can transmit the virus, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters on a call Tuesday.
— Jeanne Marrazzo (@DrJeanneM) July 30, 2021
The internal CDC document notes problems around messaging to the public and concerns that data on breakthrough cases may undermine public confidence in vaccines, The Washington Post reported.
While so-called “breakthrough” cases among the vaccinated can happen, the odds are very good that the person’s outcome will be much better than if they hadn’t been vaccinated, UAB’s Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo said Monday.
Alabama has the lowest percentage of fully vaccinated residents in the nation, a fact that state health officials say is driving the surge in the state.
Dr. David Kimberlin, a pediatric infections disease expert at UAB, in a Facebook Live event Thursday, described the delta variant as “different, and it is bad.”
“We are standing in a tunnel right now, and the train is accelerating at us as we speak,” Kimberlin said.
“Everyone, vaccinated or not, needs to be masked inside, because we need to decrease the likelihood of the spread of this,” Kimberlin said.