Speed Reads

The Delta Variant

The 'misleading' conclusions being drawn from the CDC's internal Delta variant report

The Washington Post on Friday published an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slide deck highlighting the agency's latest messaging surrounding vaccines and the rapidly-spreading Delta variant. Notably, the CDC appears to suggest that vaccinated individuals infected by the Delta variant can transmit the virus to others just as easily as the unvaccinated. 

While the document has succeeded in capturing widespread attention, some scientists and critics have flagged both the deck's framing and the conclusions being drawn from it as "misleading," particularly as they relate to the efficacy of vaccines. 

Only in the select instances of breakthrough infection can a vaccinated individual infect an unvaccinated one — but very importantly, the vaccines reduce risk of infection 8-fold (and that of hospitalization and death 25-fold). However, as the Manhattan Institute's Charles Fain Lehman notes, the way in which the CDC's data is being reported makes it appear as though vaccination has no effect on the spread of the Delta variant at all.

In fact, per the CDC's document, vaccines are still 88 percent effective against symptomatic illness. To make it appear as though vaccinated individuals are transmitting the virus "at the same rate" as unvaccinated individuals is "misleading," some argue.

Said former FDA Commissioner Scott Gotlieb to CNBC's Squawk Box, "I don't think this really changes the truth. What this changes is CDC's willingness to acknowledge that truth. The vaccines still work very well." He added that while a vaccinated individual can still transmit the disease and should, in certain instances, take precautions to prevent infection, the solution is one of "giving guidance to people on how to selectly reduce their risk."