CHICAGO, United States

Leaked data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that those who are vaccinated against COVID-19, while still well-protected, can spread the Delta variant just as easily as the unvaccinated.

The data indicates the Delta variant may be as easily spread as the chickenpox.

The information, first obtained by The Washington Post, also includes the messaging that the CDC says should be going out to Americans: “Acknowledge the war has changed.”

The data includes the long-accepted belief that the Delta variant is highly contagious and produces more severe symptoms. Last week, the CDC said over 80% of new COVID-19 infections were the result of the delta variant and that over 90% of current US deaths were happening among the unvaccinated.

But the new information finds that, while so-called “break-through” cases are still rare for the vaccinated, those cases carry just as big a “viral load” as cases among the unvaccinated.

That means while the symptoms can be far less severe for the vaccinated, those people can still transmit the disease as easily as the unvaccinated can.

Additionally, the higher viral load of the Delta variant, found in both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, can persist for a longer period of time than the original strain of COVID-19. That means those individuals are contagious to others for a longer period of time.

Critics this week, mainly among Republicans, have been piling on the CDC for recommending renewed mask-wearing in some parts of the country where the variant is spreading fast, vaccination rates are low and hospitalizations are rising. They say the CDC is offering mixed messages on the effectiveness of the vaccines, using contradictory data and giving Democratic leaders free reign to impose restrictions on Americans.

The CDC is now in the process of trying to release the data that led it to its recommendation of increased mask-wearing. The agency’s Director Rochelle Walensky said this week that the crisis remains largely a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

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