Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) C said that the coronavirus vaccine cannot stop the transmission of the virus “anymore.”
CNN host Wolfe Blitzer asked whether fully vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections could pass the virus to other individuals, especially those with underlying health conditions.
“Yes, they can with the delta variant and that was the reason we changed our guidance last Tuesday,” Walensky said. “Our vaccines are working exceptionally well, they continue to work well for delta with regard to severe illness and death, they prevent it, but what they can’t do anymore is prevent transmission.”
“So if you’re going home to somebody who has not been vaccinated, to somebody who can’t get vaccinated, somebody who might be immunosuppressed or a little bit frail, somebody who has comorbidities that put them at high risk, I would suggest you wear a mask.”
“If there is a breakthrough case, you get COVID, you’re fully vaccinated, but you’re totally asymptomatic, you could still pass on the virus to someone else, is that right?” Blitzer asked.
“That’s exactly right and that’s where a masking recommendation came from,” Walensky said.
Walensky has insisted that vaccinated individuals wear a mask to prevent transmission but a recent health panel argues that common cloth masks are not protective.
“Cloth masks are not appropriate for this pandemic,” Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore Health Commissioner, said. “It’s not appropriate for Omicron, it was not appropriate for Delta, Alpha, or any of the previous variants either because we’re dealing with something that’s airborne.”
The CDC has regularly changed its mask guidance, saying in late July vaccinated individuals should wear face masks in indoor settings after data from several studies showed the vaccine doesn’t stop the transmission of the virus.
The organization recently announced that individuals who have not received their booster shots but are infected with or exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine for five days and then mask up for five days after. Those who have received a booster shot, however, need not quarantine at all if exposed and can instead just mask up. Walensky said the new guidance was determined based on “what we thought people would be able to tolerate.”
Pfizer announced in early December individuals would need three, not two, doses of the vaccine in order to get maximum protection against the Omicron variant of the virus.