With only 10.7% of the world fully vaccinated, the ongoing debate highlights the divide between two global authorities on infectious disease. Note that both the WHO and CDC agree that people who are not vaccinated should continue to wear face masks. Here’s what we know about debate.
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Why does the WHO say vaccinated people should wear face masks?
Wearing a mask consistently continues to be important, even for people who are vaccinated, WHO Assistant Director General Dr. Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão said during a press briefing on June 25. “People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves.”
Wearing masks in public places is essential to help people from inhaling particles that will cause them to become sick, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an American infectious disease epidemiologist, said during the same briefing.
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What does the CDC say?
The CDC’s current guidance on mask wearing remains the same for fully vaccinated people. The guidelines say those who are fully vaccinated can “resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing” except where required, such as in planes and businesses.
Walensky, the agency’s director, stuck to that guidance on NBC’s Today show Wednesday, saying fully vaccinated people are protected from the delta variant.
The CDC warned CNN on Saturday that there’s still a small chance fully vaccinated people can become infected with the new variant if they’re exposed. We’ve asked the CDC for comment.
Why is the coronavirus delta variant important?
The delta variant is the latest of new coronavirus variants, and is the most contagious of the variants identified so far, according to the WHO. The delta variant has been identified in 85 countries so far and is spreading among the unvaccinated population, the organization said during the press conference.
“The delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House press briefing June 22.
Will there be a return to face mask mandates and lockdowns?
Some countries have already begun tightening COVID-19 restrictions. For instance, four cities across Australia have returned to lockdown, including Sydney’s state of New South Wales. In the US, Los Angeles County is strongly recommending face masks indoors, regardless of whether someone has been vaccinated or not, though masks aren’t required in most places. Some countries within Africa and Asia — for instance, South Africa and Malaysia — have also moved into lockdown due to the delta variant spreading.
Some places never loosened mask mandates, such as airports and airlines. In the US, other public transportation facilities require masks, such as buses and trains.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.