U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky issued a clarification on the COVID-19 “Delta” variant, proclaiming that fully vaccinated individuals are protected against the strain and don’t need to wear masks.
Some municipalities—including Los Angeles County—and a number of countries as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended mask-wearing in recent days due to the Delta COVID-19 strain. Such guidance has triggered confusion about whether the virus can affect vaccinated individuals and prompted fears that health officials would reimplement more lockdowns or other measures.
Walensky, however, said that the CDC’s recommendation on wearing masks in public hasn’t changed.
“If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States,” Walensky told NBC’s “Today” show, adding it was “exactly right” that the agency’s guidance still stipulates that vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear masks.
Officials in Israel and in other areas, meanwhile, have reported a number of so-called “breakthrough” cases involving fully vaccinated people contracting the COVID-19 Delta strain. The strain has prompted new lockdowns in the Asia-Pacific region as well as Israel.
In the case of WHO’s guidance, she added, the U.N. health organization is dealing with COVID-19 on a larger scale than the United States, which has a relatively high vaccination rate.
“We know that the WHO has to make guidelines and provide information to the world,” Walenksy said. “Right now, we know as we look across the globe that less than 15 percent of people around the world have been vaccinated and many people of those have really only received one dose of a two-dose vaccine. There are places around the world that are surging.”
And in response to Los Angeles County issuing recommendations on wearing masks, she didn’t make any specific comments.
“We have always said that local policymakers need to make policies for their local environment,” the CDC director said.