The delta variant of the coronavirus It is as contagious as chickenpox, it probably generates a disease worse than the previous ones, and cases among those vaccinated can be as communicable as among those who are not vaccinated.
The eerie panorama arises from a series of documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC), which remarks that “the war changed” due to the appearance of the delta.
The newspaper The Washington Post and the AFP agency agreed to those reports, which set off the alarms of some officials.
CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy cited those slides this week to justify a return to wearing chinstraps in high-risk settings.
One of its most relevant conclusions is that outbreaks in vaccinated are highly contagiousbased on data from previous studies and a new analysis of an outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Experts rely on a number called the “cycle threshold” (TC) that indicates how much viral load a person has. The lower the number, the higher the charge.
In Provincetown, “there was no difference in the mean TC values in vaccinated and unvaccinated cases,” the CDC slides say.
More cases but fewer hospitalizations
The CDC released a preliminary report on an over-spread event on Friday, in which nearly three-quarters of people were vaccinated.
The outbreak was related to the July 4 festivities, with a number of infected that shot to 900, according to local reports.
But unlike other massive outbreaks, lThe hospitalizations were only 7according to the MassLive website, and so far no deaths have been reported.
“This is the key point that is part of the reason why the CDC changed its orientation,” Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert at New York University, told AFP.
“Actually it is not so much for self-protection: as a vaccinated person if you have one of those infections, you may have mild symptoms or no symptoms. But, based on what we are seeing, you could be contagious for other people,” he warned.
Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, said the Provincetown outbreak occurred in a place with low community transmission of the virus, and as a result, the new CDC recommendation on the use of masks would not have helped much.
“Furthermore, an investigation into the outbreak suggests that the exposures took place in places such as bars or house parties, where the use of masks would be unlikely,” he told AFP.
Each infected infects another 8
The CDC slides also indicate that infections are not as rare as previously thought, and there are currently “35,000 symptomatic infections per week among 162 million vaccinated Americans.”
When looking at other countries, it is appreciated that while the original SARS-CoV-2 covid was as contagious as a common cold, everyone infected with the delta variant infects eight others which makes it as transmissible as chickenpox but less than measles.
Reports from Canada and Scotland also suggest that it could be more severe and more likely to be hospitalized. Also in Singapore there were higher hospitalizations and deaths.
The vaccination effect
Estimates of the efficacy of vaccination vary by country, but on its final slide, the CDC finds that the risk of serious illness or death is reduced 10 times or more in those vaccinated and the risk of infection drops three times or more.
That equates to at least 90% effective against severe cases and deaths and at least 67% against infection.
Gounder said he hopes the findings will spur greater requests for vaccines from the private sector but said that is less likely to happen in politically conservative regions where immunization has been slower.
“I think we are seeing a very long line of people who will have a very difficult time getting vaccinated,” he said.
“What is so tragic is that we had all the resources available to really crush this in this country and we are wasting it,” he lamented.