The Washington Post obtained an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slide, forcing them to admit unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals shed equal amounts of the virus. The federal health document argues officials must “acknowledge the war has changed.”
The internal document also explains the quick mask mandate reversals. “CDC scientists were so alarmed by the new research that the agency earlier this week significantly changed guidance for vaccinated people even before making new data public” reports the Washington Post.
The Washington Post reports on vital information at the center of the document:
It cites a combination of recently obtained, still-unpublished data from outbreak investigations and outside studies showing that vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated. Vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant…
…One of the slides states that there is a higher risk among older age groups for hospitalization and death relative to younger people, regardless of vaccination status. Another estimates that there are 35,000 symptomatic infections per week among 162 million vaccinated Americans.
The document outlines “communication challenges” fueled by cases in vaccinated people, including concerns from local health departments about whether coronavirus vaccines remain effective and a “public convinced vaccines no longer work/booster doses needed.”
The presentation highlights the daunting task the CDC faces. It must continue to emphasize the proven efficacy of the vaccines at preventing severe illness and death while acknowledging milder breakthrough infections may not be so rare after all, and that vaccinated individuals are transmitting the virus. The agency must move the goalposts of success in full public view…
…The breakthrough cases are to be expected, the CDC briefing states, and will probably rise as a proportion of all cases because there are so many more people vaccinated now. This echoes data seen from studies in other countries, including highly vaccinated Singapore, where 75 percent of new infections reportedly occur in people who are partially and fully vaccinated.
The CDC document cites public skepticism about vaccines as one of the challenges: “Public convinced vaccines no longer work,” one of the first slides in the presentation states.
Walter A. Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center, said he was struck by data showing that vaccinated people who became infected with delta shed just as much virus as those who were not vaccinated. The slide references an outbreak in Barnstable County, Mass., where vaccinated and unvaccinated people shed nearly identical amounts of virus.
“I think this is very important in changing things,” Orenstein said.
A person working in partnership with the CDC on investigations of the delta variant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak, said the data came from a July 4 outbreak in Provincetown, Mass. Genetic analysis of the outbreak showed that people who were vaccinated were transmitting the virus to other vaccinated people. The person said the data was “deeply disconcerting” and a “canary in the coal mine” for scientists who had seen the data.