The COVID delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and may lead to more severe symptoms than other coronavirus strains, The New York Times reported, citing a presentation circulated within the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The delta variant is also more infectious and highly transmittable, even more so than viruses such as SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the seasonal flu and smallpox, the CDC report shows.
The document states that the CDC must urgently "acknowledge the war has changed" in the fight against the virus.
A senior federal official who has seen the document said that it reflects the great concern felt among CDC scientists about the rapid spread of the delta. He told the Times that "the CDC is very concerned with the data coming in that delta is a very serious threat that requires action now." More details about the variant are expected to be published by the CDC later on Friday.
The document included new guidelines regarding masks including for vaccinated people, whom the CDC recommends should be masked indoors if in areas with high transmission rates. Israel renewed its indoor mask mandate, even for vaccinated people, last month as cases rose.
Vaccinated people who contract the delta variant contain the same amount of virus as those who are not vaccinated and can still spread the disease easily, CDC director Rochelle P. Walensky said on Tuesday.
The document also says that the delta variant is more likely than other strains to bypass the vaccine. Concurrently, many scientists have suggested that transmission by vaccinated people are not as rare as previously believed.
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The CDC on Monday raised concerns about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, lifting its travel health notice to "Level 3: High."