This TSN analysis appears to build on the major report in the Washington Post reporting that vaccinated people spread Delta variant of Covid as efficiently as the unvaccinated.  The Post also reported on the inside debate on vaccine messaging the Feds face.  We have posted the Wash Post article elsewhere.
 TrialSite News is pro-ivermectin,  But the commentaries signed by the TSN staff are generally thoughtful and coherent, precisely because this is an “outsider” publication that mixes objective coverage of other drug development news with a passion for ivermectin and other less covered repurposed drugs and treatments.  This piece does a good job of covering the dilemma the Feds face on Covid messaging, especially with the Delta variant, since it now turns out that vaccinated people can spread the variant to others as efficiently as the unvaccinated. So while the vaccinated are themselves protected from serious illness, they can be efficient carriers. What this means for the search for “herd immunity” is, as TSN points out, significant, especially as we have reported other studies estimating that with Delta it would take 90% of the population vaccinated to reach herd immunity.  If one reads outsider sources like TSN carefully and learns to distinguish between the personal “rants” and the staff-signed coverage, important findings and analyses appear that rarely get significant coverage in more authoritative mainstream sources often emerge.

Michael Lerner

TrialSite News:

In what some consider shocking news, the growing breakthrough infections and evolving viral variants mean that vaccination within this next phase of the pandemic doesn’t necessarily stop the person who is vaccinated from spreading the virus. Real-world studies had hinted that vaccination slows the spread, but the Delta variant is a gamechanger. As Dr. Fauci recently explained, this means that if someone is infected with Delta, the viral load in the nasopharynx is comparable for both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. This means that the vaccinated can carry and spread the Delta variant, just like the unvaccinated.

This new data doesn’t take away from the fact that the vaccinated are still protected from more severe illness and death, although as TrialSite has reported in other articles, breakthrough infections are leading to hospitalizations and death, just at a lower level in the vaccinated than in the unvaccinated. In light of this new data on transmission, the CDC has yet again changed its guidance to recommend wearing masks indoors, even for those who are fully vaccinated. (Not too long ago, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people did not have to wear masks indoors, so this is a swift change of advice.) The new data could also impact the quest for herd immunity, an altruistic concept in which those who are eligible to get vaccinated, and do, prevent the spread of a virus to those “in the herd” who cannot be vaccinated for whatever reason. Now, if one is vaccinated and experiences a Delta breakthrough infection, that whole premise is challenged.

Communication 101

Government-sponsored, pro-vaccination communication rippling through society and every mainstream media outlet has focused on the importance of vaccination as a societal duty to stop the spread of the disease and protect others. With the new data on the Delta variant and transmission, those statements are, at the least, misleading. Delta has complicated the vaccine rollout, and people suspect that something is awry when policies and mask recommendations rapidly shift. 

The government’s communication scheme has continuously struggled in relaying information about COVID-19 to an already distrustful population, but that doesn’t mean that absolute answers should replace uncertain ones for the ease of implementing a policy. For a government also interested in combatting misinformation, with this new data on Delta and transmission, it’s inaccurate to promote COVID-19 vaccines with slogans and messages that emphasize “stopping the spread” or “protecting your loved ones.” People will recognize the discrepancy and lose trust. 

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