Even fully vaccinated persons can get high viral load of Delta variant, infect others – US CDC

CDC cites study of COVID-19 outbreak in Massachusetts that found Delta variant infections among fully vaccinated individuals

(Eagle News) – Even fully vaccinated people can transmit the Delta variant as significant high viral loads of this COVID-19 virus strain were found in fully vaccinated individuals who got infected with this variant, as well as those unvaccinated against COVID-19.

This was according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, July 30, which had to update its guidance for fully vaccinated people requiring them to wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high transmission.

The study of “breakthrough infections” in Barnstable Country in Massachusetts could prove to be the game changer in the COVID-19 fight.

The data were published in the US CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

US CDC director Director Rochelle P. Walensky then issued a statement warning the public about the need for extra precautions, and wearing of masks even for fully vaccinated individuals because of the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant.

Rochelle Walensky, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listen during the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC on July 20, 2021. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / POOL / AFP)

-Even fully vaccinated can carry carry high viral load, increasing risk of transmission to others-

The results of the outbreak study in Massachusetts were clear: even fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus. This presents a big challenge to children or the immuno-compromised who are not yet vaccinated as the Delta variant can infect both young and old.

“Today, some of those data were published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), demonstrating that Delta infection resulted in similarly high SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” CDC’s Walensky said.

“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,” she said in a statement.

Walensky further said that “this finding is concerning and was a pivotal discovery leading to CDC’s updated mask recommendation.”

-CDC: Fully vaccinated persons should still wear masks-

“The masking recommendation was updated to ensure the vaccinated public would not unknowingly transmit virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones,” she stressed.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 30: A city-operated mobile pharmacy advertises the COVID-19 vaccine in a Brooklyn neighborhood on July 30, 2021 in New York City. Due to the rapidly spreading Delta variant, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the city will require all city workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19 and the city will now pay any individual $100 to get the shot. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

It was only last July 27 that the US CDC updated its guidance for fully vaccinated people, recommending that everyone wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high transmission, regardless of vaccination status.

“This decision was made with the data and science available to CDC at the time, including a valuable public health partnership resulting in rapid receipt and review of unpublished data,” Walensky said.

According to the study held last month in the outbreak of cases in Massachusetts, 74 percent of the COVID-19 cases there occurred in fully vaccinated individuals. Upon testing, the Delta variant was found in 90 percent of the specimens. As of July 27, no deaths were reported among the infected fully vaccinated individuals.

“In July 2021, following multiple large public events in a Barnstable County, Massachusetts, town, 469 COVID-19 cases were identified among Massachusetts residents who had traveled to the town during July 3–17; 346 (74%) occurred in fully vaccinated persons,” the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said.

“Testing identified the Delta variant in 90% of specimens from 133 patients. Cycle threshold values were similar among specimens from patients who were fully vaccinated and those who were not.”

Courtesy US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Mortality and Morbidity Weekly report early release (July 30, 2021) on the Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, Associated with Large Public Gatherings — Barnstable County, Massachusetts, July 2021

-Infected fully vaccinated individuals had Pfizer, Moderna, J&J shots-

The fully vaccinated persons who were infected with the Delta variant had been given vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen shots.

“Among the 469 cases in Massachusetts residents, 346 (74%) occurred in persons who were fully vaccinated; of these, 301 (87%) were male, with a median age of 42 years,” the CDC report said.

“Vaccine products received by persons experiencing breakthrough infections were Pfizer-BioNTech (159; 46%), Moderna (131; 38%), and Janssen (56; 16%); among fully vaccinated persons in the Massachusetts general population, 56% had received Pfizer-BioNTech, 38% had received Moderna, and 7% had received Janssen vaccine products.”

-No deaths among infected fully vaccinated persons-

“Among persons with breakthrough infection, 274 (79%) reported signs or symptoms, with the most common being cough, headache, sore throat, myalgia, and fever. Among fully vaccinated symptomatic persons, the median interval from completion of ≥14 days after the final vaccine dose to symptom onset was 86 days (range = 6–178 days). Among persons with breakthrough infection, four (1.2%) were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported,” the CDC report on the study said.

“Real-time RT-PCR Ct values in specimens from 127 fully vaccinated patients (median = 22.77) were similar to those among 84 patients who were unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated, or whose vaccination status was unknown (median = 21.54).”

The report also recommended additional measures including “limiting capacity at gatherings or event postponement, based on current rates of COVID-19 transmission, population vaccination coverage, and other factors.”

(Eagle News Service)