In an effort to keep our membership apprised of the most recent COVID-19 news and its possible impact on our Live Events industry, Hawaiʻi Events Coalition has gone through roughly 50 federal and health organization emails and numerous world media sites to encapsulate today’s headlines into a (hopefully) more easy-to-read summary.
On Friday, Reuters began a weekend discussion across the nation about the U.S. Centers for Disease Control‘s internal report regarding the high transmissibility of the Delta variant, which was compared to chickenpox in terms of the speed at which it spreads.
“The variant was also more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines, but the health authority said such incidents were very rare,” wrote the Reuters team, referencing this report from the CDC’s website. The report stated, “Delta variant is more transmissible than: MERS & SARS, Ebola, Common cold, Seasonal flu & 1918 (“Spanish”) flu, Smallpox” and “Delta variant is as transmissible as: Chicken Pox.”
COVID-19 can infect a vaccinated individual, though generally less severely than an unvaccinated individual. These very rare “breakthrough infections” pose less threat in terms of symptoms and likelihood of hospitalization or – more remotely, death – but nonetheless can be carried by vaccinated individuals and spread from them. This is the primary reason the CDC reinstituted its mask mandates for individuals regardless of vaccination status, particularly in under-vaccinated locations, and why many countries are moving back to, or strongly considering returning to, mandated use of masks for their entire population until vaccination levels are sufficient to deter the spread of the virus.
As we’ve seen with the origin virus, Sars CoV-2 (COVID-19), the Delta variant is spread most commonly through the mouth and nose, but it is inferred by CDC research that Delta is more thickly congregated than the origin virus. Delta is therefore more robust, leading to its ease of spread. And while the current approved vaccines in the U.S. are greater than 90% effective at mitigating both the origin virus and all its variants, it is not a cure – nor does it protect one from being a carrier for Delta even if asymptomatic. The CDC states that for COVID-19 and its variants (including Delta), the risk of severe disease or death is reduced 10-fold or greater, and the risk of infection is reduced 3-fold, in vaccinated individuals. Preliminary numbers calculated by CDC researchers illustrate that among a U.S. vaccinated population of 162 million, only about 2.2%, or 35,000, display symptoms of infection.
Even as news outlets report that booster shots may be in our future, the existing benefits of the vaccines are evident in studies. In the CDC report, statistics from the health care industry – National Healthcare Safety Network among them – are overwhelmingly positive even in the face of the Delta variant: between December 14, 2020, and April 10, 2021, the vaccines were 91% effective in fully vaccinated individuals and 81% effective in partially vaccinated individuals in the 64-97 years-of-age population, where severe infection and death are more likely. The further from this age group one is, the greater the protection afforded whether or not there are underlying health concerns.
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