Vaccinated people can spread the virus, although rarely, according to CDC reports

In another unexpected and unwanted turn of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Friday stro...


In another unexpected and unwanted turn of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Friday strongly suggesting that fully immune people with so-called breakthrough infections of the Delta variant can spread the virus to others as easily as unvaccinated people.

The vaccines remain powerfully effective against serious illness and death, and the agency said infections in those vaccinated were relatively rare. But the revelation follows a slew of other recent discoveries about the Delta variant that have rocked scientists’ understanding of the coronavirus.

In the new report, which sought to explain the agency’s sudden review of its masking advice for vaccinated Americans, the CDC described an outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts this month that quickly spread to 470 cases in Massachusetts alone on Thursday.

Three-quarters of those infected were fully immune and the Delta variant was found in most of the samples that were analyzed genetically. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people who were infected carried high levels of the virus, the agency reported.

“High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and have raised concerns that, unlike other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta could transmit the virus,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday.

Viral load data indicate that even fully immunized people can spread the virus as easily as unvaccinated people who are infected. “We think on an individual level they could do it, which is why we’ve updated our recommendation,” Dr. Walensky said in an email to The New York Times earlier this week.

An internal agency document, which was obtained from The Times Thursday evening, suggested even greater concern among CDC scientists and raised heart-wrenching questions about the virus and its trajectory.

The Delta variant is about as contagious as chickenpox, the paper notes, and universal masking may become necessary. Still, breakthrough infections overall are rare, according to the agency.

On Friday, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that the rate of groundbreaking cases is less than 1% among fully immunized people in states that retain this data.

Collection research on the variant throws disarray over the country’s plans to return to offices and schools this fall, and reignites tough questions about masking, testing and other precautions Americans hoped were behind them.

Government officials and scientists are gravely concerned that the results could shake confidence in vaccines, hampering the country’s lagging vaccination campaign, if Americans mistakenly deduce the injections are not working.

Concerned about the lagging campaign, President Biden ordered all federal employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly virus testing. Support for immunization mandates is increasing among some companies and in parts of the country.

The evolution of research on the Delta variant has humbled scientists around the world, who are now faced with new questions about the virus that they had not considered.

They don’t fully understand the circumstances that may increase the chances of a breakthrough infection, for example, or who may be at greatest risk. They don’t know for sure that the Delta variant causes more serious illness in unvaccinated people who are infected, although early data suggests it does.

“We spent so much time, energy and treasure trying to figure out this damn virus last year, and how it works and everything it does,” said Dr Robert Wachter, chairman of the department of medicine from the University of California, San Francisco.

Learning how different the Delta variant is from the original virus is “just shocking,” he added. “The brain doesn’t like to keep shaking like this.”

Even though breakthrough infections are rare, new data suggests that the vaccinated may contribute to the increase in new infections – although likely to a much lesser degree than the unvaccinated. Revolutionary infections were always anticipated, but until the arrival of the Delta variant, vaccinated Americans were not seen as drivers of community spread.

“Delta teaches us to expect the unexpected,” said John Moore, virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. “There are aspects of what we know now that we didn’t see coming.”

The discovery is appalling, but vaccines remain the only reliable shield against the virus, whatever its form. Vaccines largely prevent infection, even with the Delta variant, and greatly reduce the risk of serious illness or death if infected.

Nationally, about 97% of people hospitalized with Covid-19 are unvaccinated, according to CDC data, and those who are not vaccinated are much more likely to spread the virus to others in their communities.

“Full vaccination is very protective, including against Delta,” said Angela Rasmussen, researcher at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

“Masks are a wise precaution, but most of the transmission is among the unvaccinated and it is always the one that is most at risk,” she added.

The research gathered underscores the urgency of speeding up the pace of vaccination in the United States and reducing the number of people at risk of serious illness. This week, the vaccination rate in the European Union exceeded that of the United States for the first time.

About 58% of Americans aged 12 and over are fully immunized. The rate of vaccination has slowed to just over 500,000 people per day, although it has started to increase slightly over the past two weeks as infections increase again.

In Britain, where the variant appears to subside after an outbreak, vaccinations have been rolled out by age and a much higher proportion of people over 50 are vaccinated than in the United States.

Vaccination rates are much more uneven in the United States, said Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “The upshot is that what Delta is doing in the UK is not necessarily what it is going to do in places where vaccination is more varied,” he said.

“Things are going to be worse than they would have been” without the variant, he added. “But they’re going to be a lot better than they could have been without the vaccination.”

In its Friday report, the CDC urged local and state authorities in jurisdictions with even lower levels of the virus to consider implementing precautions, such as masking and limiting gatherings. The CDC’s internal document seemed more urgent, recommending that the agency “recognize that the war has changed.”

Indeed, the questions facing Americans today seem almost inexhaustible, almost insoluble. Should companies ask their employees to return to their workplace if vaccinated people could occasionally spread the variant? What does this mean for stores, restaurants and schools? Are unmasked family reunions off the table again?

With the daily case count reaching nearly 72,000 on average as of Friday, new data suggests that immunized people with young children, aging parents, or friends and family with weakened immune systems may need to. wear masks to protect vulnerable people in their orbit. – even in communities where infection rates are lower.

The outbreak in Provincetown, Mass., Germinated this month after more than 60,000 revelers celebrated the July 4 rally at densely populated bars, restaurants, guesthouses and rental homes, often indoors.

On July 3, there were no cases in the city and surrounding county. On July 10, authorities noted a slight increase and on July 17, there were 177 cases per 100,000 people. The epidemic has since spread to nearly 900 people across the country.

“Vaccines are like waders,” said Dr Rasmussen. “They keep you dry if you cross a river, but if you are too deep and water will start to flow over it. This appears to be what happened during the Massachusetts outbreak. “

Three-quarters of state residents linked to the outbreak said they had a cough, headache, sore throat or fever – symptoms of an upper respiratory infection – and 74% were fully immune .

Of the five people hospitalized, four were fully vaccinated – one with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and three with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Two of the vaccinated patients had underlying medical problems. Genetic analysis of 133 cases identified the Delta variant in 119 cases and a closely related virus in an additional case.

Scientists warned even last year that vaccines may not completely prevent infection or transmission. But experts did not expect these infections to figure significantly in the fight against the virus, nor the speed at which the Delta variant would cross the country.

“I thought two months ago that we were on the bump,” Dr Wachter said. In San Francisco, the most vaccinated large city in the country, 77% of people over 12 are vaccinated.

And yet, the hospital where he works has seen a sharp rise, from a case of Covid-19 on June 1 to 40 now. Fifteen of the patients are in intensive care.

“If getting 70 or 75 percent immunity doesn’t protect the community, I think it’s very difficult to extrapolate what happens to a place that is 30 percent vaccinated,” said Dr Wachter. “Humility is perhaps the most important thing here.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Vaccinated people can spread the virus, although rarely, according to CDC reports
Vaccinated people can spread the virus, although rarely, according to CDC reports
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