Local experts react to CDC finding: Vaccinated people can transmit delta variant


CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Internal documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the COVID-19 delta variant state the agency must “acknowledge the war has changed.”

The documents state the delta variant is highly contagious, likely more severe, as contagious as the chickenpox, and can lead to “more breakthrough and more community spread despite vaccination.

So what does this mean for the vaccinated?

“I think the key point here is that a vaccinated person can spread it to unvaccinated people,” said Cleveland Clinic Pulmonary Medicine Dr. Akhil Bindra. “I think it highlights a couple of things, the need to wear masks, highlights the extreme benefit of getting a vaccine.”

According to the CDC, the delta variant is more transmissible than Ebola, Smallpox, SARS and MERS and the seasonal flu.

“The Delta variant appears to be very infectious,” said Dr. Bindra. “Each person potentially infecting up to eight to nine other people which is different than even the original Covid, SARS-CoV-2 which was close to 2 people it would infect for every person infected.”

Earlier this week the CDC changed its mask guidance — even for the vaccinated stating in areas of high or substantial transmission mask use indoors is recommended for everyone.

In Northeast Ohio as of Friday afternoon, the CDC transmission map lists Ashland County as a place of high transmission. Other counties listed as areas of substantial transmission include Ottawa, Sandusky, Erie, Huron, Medina, Portage, Geauga, Trumbull and Lorain counties.

It’s a classification that came somewhat as a surprise to the Lorain County Public Health Commissioner Dave Covell. He said 52 percent of the county is vaccinated.  

“We’re doing pretty well we’re one of the higher vaccination rates of all the counties in Ohio,” said Covell. “…We probably have 80,000 people who are eligible that are not vaccinated.”

It’s the unvaccinated, he says that are the most at risk for severe illness if they get COVID-19 but even the vaccinated need to take precautions including wearing a mask indoors in places of higher transmission.

“Right now we have about 20% of our cases are breakthrough where someone is vaccinated, and they have a light case and again it’s more like a common cold,” said Covell.

Friday, the CDC released as study stating vaccinated people infected with the delta variant can transmit the virus however the vaccinated do not experience as severe of an illness compared to an unvaccinated person.

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