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As delta strain drives the current COVID-19 spike, here’s what concerns the CDC

·2 min read

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday outlined some of the agency’s concerns regarding the possible transmission of COVID-19’s delta variant in the rare cases of people who get infected after already being vaccinated, according to a document obtained by The Star.

Emerging science cited by the CDC suggests that some vaccinated people may be contagious if they become infected with the delta strain. Relatively few vaccinated people experience so-called breakthrough infections, and current data show the vast majority of new cases sweeping the U.S. are among those who have yet to receive the vaccine, according to the CDC.

Of the approximately 162 million Americans vaccinated, the CDC says they are “overwhelmingly avoiding severe illness, hospitalization and death.” A ballpark figure from the federal agency based on current projections is that less than 1% of symptomatic cases will be identified in people who have received the vaccine by the end of July.

Also cited by the CDC was an Israeli medical study that showed as little as 13% of vaccinated people with a breakthrough infection were spreading the virus.

The agency currently has no measure of possible COVID-19 transmission in cases where vaccinated people do not present symptoms. But the likelihood is expected to be “relatively low,” according to the CDC.

Still, the CDC now says those who have received the vaccine and are in high risk areas should wear a mask indoors to protect themselves and those around them. The message comes after rules around the nation were eased in May following earlier guidance from the federal government that masks and social distancing were no longer necessary for people who had been vaccinated.

Since then, the delta variant has become a dominant factor in rising new cases. Nationally, COVID-19 cases increased three-fold nationally between June 19 and July 23, according to the CDC. All of Missouri and most of eastern Kansas are considered sites of high transmission risk.

The agency says the case numbers are similar to the wave experienced during the summer of 2020. But deaths are remarkably fewer — approximately 70% less than last year — largely because of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, the agency says.

Health officials continue to say vaccination is the best method of protection against COVID-19. Health risks of the virus are remarkably lower for those who have received the vaccine, the CDC says, amounting to 350% less for the possibility of infection, 800% lower for the risk of hospitalization and 2,500% less for death.

In its recommendation, the federal agency says community leaders should continue to encourage vaccination and masking to prevent further outbreaks.