(CMR) The World Health Organization has recommended that vaccinated people continue to wear masks and social distance because of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.
“Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission. People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said.
The recommendation comes weeks after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people could go most places without masks. The vaccines are considered “highly effective” against the delta variant, although slightly less than the original strain, a recent study by the British government said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that about half of adults infected in an outbreak of the delta variant in Israel were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“Yes, you can reduce some measures, and different countries have different recommendations in that regard. But there’s still the need for caution. As we are seeing, there are new variants emerging,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO’s director-general, said.
The delta variant, which was first found in India, is now reported in 92 countries. Studies suggest delta is around 60% more transmissible than alpha, the highly contagious variant first identified in the UK.