Health officials in the United States will on Friday explain the science behind their U-turn on face masks, as Republicans express skepticism over the decision – which appears to have stemmed from research into a July 4 outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday announced that they were updating their previous guidance to now recommend that vaccinated people wear face masks once more, when indoors and in parts of the country with substantial COVID-19 transmission.
They did not explain their reason for the shift in policy – which has sparked fevered debate – and merely said it was due to new data on the highly contagious Delta variant. On May 13 the American public was told they no longer needed to wear masks indoors if vaccinated.
An internal federal health document obtained by The Washington Post claimed that the Delta variant was as infectious as chickenpox or Ebola – with each infected person passing the virus to eight or nine others, on average. That infectivity is known as R0.
The original lineage was about as transmissible as the common cold, with each infected person passing it to about two others, on average.
CDC Dr Rochelle Walensky has previously noted the rarity of viruses with such high R values, telling CNN: ‘When you think about diseases that have an R0 of eight or nine — there aren’t that many.’
Officials, the document stated, must ‘acknowledge the war has changed.’
The source of the data was unclear but it appeared to have been provided to the Post and the New York Times at the same time – suggesting the possibility of a coordinated leak.
The slide presentation said that the CDC must improve its messaging on COVID-19, and emphasize the urgency of the situation.
‘I finished reading it significantly more concerned than when I began,’ said Robert Wachter, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
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Source: By Harriet Alexander for Dailymail.com