COVID delta variant may spread as easily as chickenpox, report says

CDC expected to officially release findings Friday

FILE - (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
FILE - (AP Photo/John Locher, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Now accounting for more than 80% of COVID-19 cases, health officials are learning the delta variant surging across the U.S. is appearing to cause more severe illness and can spread as easily as chickenpox.

An internal document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, first obtained and reported by The Washington Post, outlines unpublished data that shows fully vaccinated people might spread the delta variant at the same rate as unvaccinated people.

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According to the Washington Post, the document — expected to be published by the CDC on Friday — urges officials must “acknowledge the war has changed” as the variant appears to spread “as easily as chickenpox” and that new data shows vaccinated people have similar viral loads to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant.

The slideshow presentation also says vaccines prevent more than 90% of severe disease and that they could reduce the risk of severe disease or death 10-fold and reduce the risk of infection three-fold.

Earlier this week, the agency updated its mask guidance for vaccinated individuals in indoor public spaces, citing new information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people.

The updated guidance applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week, which includes 60% of U.S. counties, officials said. New case rates are particularly high in the South and Southwest, according to a CDC tracker. In Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, every county has a high transmission rate.

For more information on the internal document, click here.