News & Politics

CDC Chief Walensky 'Grossly Exaggerates' COVID Risk in Vaccinated People

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

The Centers for Disease Control is made up of some very, very smart people. We know this because we’re told it’s true. These are scientists, after all, not given to exaggeration or hysteria, right?

But lately, the American people have become skeptical about advice emanating from this agency. Even before the latest kerfuffle with masks, the CDC’s track record in disseminating true and accurate information about the coronavirus and the pandemic left a lot to be desired.

A big part of the problem is that the CDC has been trying to serve two masters; science and politics. It’s not a good mix. Inevitably, there is going to be a conflict between their two missions. And the resulting confusion has already killed people and will likely keep killing people now that the last shred of the CDC’s credibility has disappeared.

The latest “recommendation” from the CDC on mask-wearing is not evidence-based. The guidance is the result of one, single study from Provincetown, Massachusetts involving a COVID-19 outbreak involving 469 residents who attended several Fourth of July festivities in the area and ended up testing positive. The all-important “viral loads” from those testing positive was so alarming because researchers saw the same viral loads in the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

Viral loads are simple to understand. The more virus is loaded up in your respiratory system, the more contagious you are. We have known since the beginning that the COVID vaccines were not a total shield against catching COVID-19 but were extremely effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

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This, the vaccines have done. Only 0.098 percent of vaccinated people who contract COVID are hospitalized or die.

Even the Delta variant.

But the question of whether and how much vaccinated people actually spread COVID has not been settled. So the masking recommendation is over an “abundance of caution” and not based on hard science. This is something CDC Director Rochelle Walensky failed to mention.

Reason:

“Every 20 vaccinated people, one or two of them could get a breakthrough infection,” Walensky told CNN’s John Berman. That statement, which implies that 5 to 10 percent of vaccinated people will catch COVID-19, grossly exaggerates the odds of a breakthrough infection. Walensky seems to have misconstrued the meaning of the effectiveness rates reported in vaccine studies, which is a pretty serious mistake for the head of the CDC to make.

Well, yeah. Walensky’s mistake is commonly made by laypeople who misunderstand the implications of scientific jargon.  But Walensky is not a layperson. She is charged with the critical task of explaining the latest scientific evidence and justifying CDC recommendations. She did neither.

Why is this important?

The CDC notes a recent population survey in England that found full vaccination reduced the chance of infection by 72 percent, notably lower than the effectiveness rates in studies involving earlier variants. But even in that study, just 0.07 percent of fully vaccinated people tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 0.24 percent of unvaccinated people.

“The 125,682 ‘breakthrough’ cases in 38 states found by NBC News represent less than .08 percent of the 164.2 million-plus people who have been fully vaccinated since January or about one in every 1,300,” CNBC reports.

Not only do vaccinated people not get seriously ill — even with the Delta variant — they are also rarely responsible for infecting others.

The Washington Post reports that “at least five events sparked the outbreak, so it is not possible to blame it on one party or one bar.” Nor is it yet clear how many of the infections were acquired from vaccinated carriers. The Post says researchers “are analyzing the genetic fingerprints of the virus samples” to “trace chains of transmission and determine how commonly fully vaccinated people were infecting one another.”

No scientific evidence that we should mask up, but we should do it “just in case” vaccinated people spread the disease.

The sad fact is, the CDC has zero credibility and those who put their faith in CDC recommendations are doing so for partisan political reasons not based on logic or science.