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Vaccines don’t stop delta variant transmission, virologist warns

A man holds a sign for fans to mask up during the game between the Seattle Sounders and the Atlanta United at Lumen Field on May 23, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

New evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the delta variant of COVID-19 is highly transmissible, comparable in its rate of transmission to other highly contagious diseases such as chickenpox.

In a July 30 interview on the Gee and Ursula Show, Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University, spoke to the CDC’s findings and their possible ramifications.

“The main reason why this is concerning is this suggests that people who are vaccinated and who become infected with delta variants may be capable of transmitting the virus to other people,” she said.

Washington now recommends all people wear masks indoors

She was quick to quell any notion that this finding has any bearing on vaccine efficacy: The vaccines still work at preventing symptomatic and severe COVID-19.

“The vaccines actually all hold up very well against the delta variant, including Johnson & Johnson,” Rasmussen said.

She affirmed that the implicit danger to these findings is that it is possible for the vaccinated to transmit the virus to the unvaccinated. That risk of spread is more severe now when compared with earlier iterations of coronavirus as the delta variant has a more intense viral expression.

“It appears the delta variant sheds … about 1,000 times more virus than other variants that have been circulating. So that just means that if you’re around somebody with delta, they’re going to have 1,000 times more virus coming out of their nose,” she explained.

Health officials worried about a fifth wave in COVID cases, delta variant

It is for this reason that Washington state is following the CDC’s recommendation that all people, which notably encompasses the vaccinated population, wear masks indoors.

“If I got infected with delta and I was asymptomatic, I might not be aware that I was infected, and I really would not want to be going out into my community, potentially exposing other people, particularly if they are unvaccinated, if they’re kids, or if they’re people who are immunocompromised,” she said.

Dr. Rasmussen affirmed mask wearing as a simple, practical, low-cost measure to mitigate the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.

This recommendation comes in anticipation of a fifth wave of COVID-19 cases.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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