Omar Franco, Becker shareholder and chair of the firm’s Federal Lobbying Team, recently attended a briefing of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky.
“In an effort to dispel even the smallest portion of fear and misinformation that currently surrounds COVID-19 and its vaccination, it is necessary to only share updates from reliable sources,” said Franco. “Doctors and scientists continue to battle this disease and, while they may not have solved the problem in a 30-second movie montage, they are still the most knowledgeable about how best to protect yourself, your families, and your community.”
Please see below for Dr. Walensky’s updates regarding ongoing efforts to address COVID-19 in the United States.
Can you touch on vaccine effectiveness against the delta variant?
The CDC is looking at the data provided by our cohort studies every week to two weeks. They indicate that the vaccines is working well against delta with about an 88% effectiveness against symptomatic disease.
Is the CDC recommending masking in all schools, regardless of transmission level?
We recommend masking in all schools for all people regardless of transmission level. We want schools to remain open full time for this school year, and we believe this is the way to ensure that.
Does the recommendation for outdoor masking pertain to more crowded areas? Is there some level of density regarding indoor masking; if there are less people in a room with greater distance, must they wear a mask?
All people that are indoors should wear masks in areas of increased transmission. The CDC stresses that outdoors is much safer than indoors; fully vaccinated people may choose whether they want to wear masks in an outdoor setting.
Are there any updates as to when elementary students can get the vaccine?
I am not sure and will need to defer to the FDA. We have not seen the clinical trial data yet.
Have you seen a difference in symptoms between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people?
Vaccinated [individuals] are less likely to get disease and much more likely to be mildly symptomatic should they be infected, than unvaccinated people.
What is the science behind transmission which was at the root for this recommendation? Can you explain the risk of transmission?
The vast majority of transmission is occurring between unvaccinated people. The CDC has been conducting investigations that highlight how much of the virus is in people – vaccinated and unvaccinated – who have been infected. There were more unvaccinated people who contracted the disease, but in comparing the amount virus in people that were infected, the level in vaccinated and unvaccinated people were the same. In other words, someone that contracts the Delta Variant that is already vaccinated is just as likely to transmit it to someone else as someone that is unvaccinated.
Have the CDC and/or the White House found better ways to communicate the need for vaccines in communities with low-vaccination rates?
We have the resources to do this and a lot of strategy is being created and implemented with the aim of developing confidence within those communities.
Is CDC also recommending mandating federal employees getting vaccinated? Would this evenly lead to possibly mandating the country as a whole?
The Biden administration is looking at what a vaccine mandate would look like, but it is not a CDC decision. I support any method of increasing vaccination rates.
For information regarding updated CDC recommendations, please click here.