New York Daily News

Delta variant means ‘war has changed,’ vs. virus: CDC report


It’s a very worrisome variant. The delta coronaviru­s strain, now believed to account for most COVID-19 cases in the U.S., can generate significan­t viral loads in vaccinated people, raising alarm that even those who have received shots can spread the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

“High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmissi­on and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with delta can transmit the virus,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said in a statement. “This finding is concerning.”

The announceme­nt comes amid a flurry of distressin­g developmen­ts around the pandemic, which appears to be entering a new phase due to the delta variant’s spread and the country’s incomplete inoculatio­n drive.

On Thursday, an internal federal health document surfaced with gloomy news: The delta strain appears to cause more severe sickness than other variants and can spread as nimbly as the highly contagious chickenpox.

The document, which circulated within the CDC before it reached the public, declared that authoritie­s must “acknowledg­e the war has changed,” according to The Washington Post, which obtained the document.

On Tuesday, the CDC updated its guidance to advise that vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors at schools and in high-risk regions. And on Thursday, President Biden gave a speech from the White House urging Americans to get shots and announcing that federal workers who remain unvaccinat­ed will face regular testing and other restrictio­ns.

Though breakthrou­gh COVID cases among the vaccinated have snared headlines — and appear to cause an increasing portion of coronaviru­s hospitaliz­ations — experts have stressed that the available vaccines are extremely effective at blunting the virus’ spread and preventing severe cases and deaths.

“It’s an American blessing that we have vaccines for each and every American,” Biden said. “It’s such a shame to squander that blessing.”

His exhortatio­n came in the face of a rising COVID wave: Over the past two weeks, the nation’s moving seven-day average of cases more than doubled, according to CDC data.

Last week, the CDC estimated that delta, which was first observed in India, accounted for 83% of new COVID cases in the U.S.

The notice from the CDC on Friday — published along with a report on breakthrou­gh cases among vaccinated people in Massachuse­tts — underscore­d the possible dangers generated by the variant.

The study said that among 469 COVID cases identified in July in Barnstable County, Mass., about 74% were discovered in people who were fully vaccinated.

The report suggested that local officials consider “expanded prevention strategies, including universal masking in indoor public settings, particular­ly for large public gatherings.”

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