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Here we go again: WHO cites Delta variant, urges fully-vaccinated to wear masks and distance

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Here we go again. Citing the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization on Friday urged people who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 to continue to wear masks and social distance.

In effect, WHO officials are asking fully vaccinated people to “play it safe” because a large portion of the world remains unvaccinated and the Delta variant is spreading in many countries, CNBC reported.

“People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a news conference, according to the network.

Speaking from the agency’s Geneva headquarters, Simao added, “Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission. People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.”

The warning comes as the U.S. continues to relax pandemic restrictions, doing away with mask mandates and social distancing requirements in states to allow Americans to resume some semblance of normal life.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO’s director-general, said at Friday’s news conference that people “can reduce some measures and different countries have different recommendations in that regard. But there’s still the need for caution.”

While new infections in the U.S. have held steady over the last week, averaging 11,659 new cases per day, new infections decreased significantly in the last several months, CNBC reported, citing data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The article noted that WHO said last week Delta, first found in India but now in at least 92 countries, is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that about half of adults infected in an outbreak of the Delta variant in Israel were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Israeli government reinstated an indoor mask requirement and other measures, with the Wall Street Journal reporting Friday that nearly half of the adults infected in a Delta outbreak there were fully vaccinated.

And there’s no shortage of alarmists predicting doom in the U.S.

Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, took to Twitter to sound the alarm in a long series of tweets — according to Feigl-Ding, America has one month to act “or else.”

“US has just 1 month to act before US becomes full blown #DeltaVariant dominant. 1 month to slow it down. 1 month to fully vaccinate. Or else. But we likely have even less time than that if CDC doesn’t act soon,’ tweeted Feigl-Ding.

In another tweet, he declared: “Don’t act slowly against the #DeltaVariant. Speed matters. You must move quickly or else once Delta hits a critical mass, you will be in trouble and lose control.”

Feigl-Ding encouraged followers to sign a petition calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse its mask rule.

A former Democratic candidate for Congress, Feigl-Ding advocates for re-imposing a universal mask rule, even for those who have been vaccinated, and strongly supports vaccinating children, according to the Daily Mail.

The British tabloid noted that even though Feigl-Ding has a Ph.D. in epidemiology, his background is in nutrition and chronic diseases rather than infectious diseases.

On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday “there is no widespread scientific consensus on whether the Delta variant is more likely to cause more serious illness than other conventional strains,” and that “vaccinated people are well protected against infection and illness.”

The newspaper quoted L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer saying the few vaccinated people who have been infected with the Delta variant “experienced relatively mild illness.”

Tom Tillison

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