Delta variant as contagious as chickenpox: CDC study

WASHINGTON: The Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads as easily as chickenpox with a transmission rate up to nine times more than the original strain, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has revealed, asserting that agencies tasked with containing the virus need to “acknowledge the war has changed,” while pressing for universal masking.
The CDC was prompted to disclose details of the study after skeptical Republicans questioned the science behind revised guidelines that called on even fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas where transmission of the virus is substantial or high.
“I think people need to understand that we’re not crying wolf here. This is serious,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told CNN after it emerged that the Delta variant may have an infectivity rate, known as RO, of eight or nine, compared to about two for the original virus.
“When you think about diseases that have an R0 of eight or nine — there aren’t that many,” Dr Wallensky said after a CDC internal document first reported in the Washington Post cited a study that said the Delta variant is more transmissible than MERS & SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the Spanish flu, and smallpox.

Raging Republicans who are deeply skeptical about the science behind changing protocols initially alleged that the proposed mask mandate was “based on a 100-person study from India that didn’t pass peer-review and uses vaccines that aren’t approved in America.” But it turns out that much of the new data surrounding the Delta variant came from a July 4 outbreak in Provincetown, Cape Cod, where there as a large outbreak despite a 74 per cent immunisation.
In the outbreak, vaccinated and unvaccinated people had nearly the same amount of virus recovered from test samples, indicating that vaccinated people could be just as contagious as unvaccinated people when it comes to the Delta variant. The study also says in addition to being more contagious, the Delta variant likely increases the risk of severe disease and hospitalization compared with the original strain.
New cases continue to rise in the US ticking up over 70,000 on Friday, a 150 per cent increase from two weeks ago.
The mandates issue has now become intensely political. On Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order preventing mask and Covid-19 vaccination mandates, to promote “individual right and responsibility.” Defiant Republican lawmakers in Washington are disdaining masks on the premises of Congress even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seeking to impose penalties on the unmasked.
“I’m socially distanced from anybody else. I’ve had Covid. I’ve had two vaccinations. I’m washing my hands. I’m even wearing my mask inside the (House) chamber. But I’m not going to wear it anywhere else. So Madam Speaker, come and get me,” one lawmaker taunted Pelosi on social media with a unmasked photo, accusing her of a power grab.
Pelosi in turn called one Republican Congressman who questioned the mask mandate a “moron.”

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