CDC Internal Report Says Delta Variant as Contagious as Chickenpox

(Reuters) -

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described the Delta variant of the coronavirus to be as contagious as chickenpox and could cause severe illness, The New York Times reported, citing an internal CDC document.

The variant was also more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines, the report said, adding that the agency’s reverse course on masking guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans on Tuesday was based on this document.

However, CDC‘s figures show that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death in vaccinated people, the report said, citing experts.

New research showed the vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant carried tremendous amounts of the virus in the nose and throat, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told the Times.

The Delta variant is more transmissible than the viruses that cause MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the seasonal flu and smallpox, the report said.

The immediate next step for the agency is to “acknowledge the war has changed,” the report cited the document as saying.

CDC is expected to publish additional data on the variant on Friday, the NYT said.

Earlier this week, the CDC changed its masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the Delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling surges in new cases.

Citing new – but unreleased — information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.