Americans who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will contract the Delta variant of COVID-19 sooner or later, former Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir said Thursday.
“This is so infectious that you will get it,” Giroir told Fox News’ “America Reports,” adding: “If you have had COVID before, we don’t know exactly, but it’s looking like prior immunity is not so good against Delta, and I’m really concerned that the evidence is mounting that even natural immunity will not protect you against Delta.
“So get the vaccine, it’s the way to save your life and keep you out of the hospital, and that’s the number one reason we need to get it,” said Giroir.
The Delta variant, first discovered in India, has been blamed for a spike in cases across much of the US. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended indoor mask mandates, regardless of vaccination status, in places with at least 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the previous seven days.
In making the recommendation, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cited unreleased data indicating that vaccinated people can spread the Delta variant to unvaccinated people more easily than other strains of COVID-19. Critics have questioned that assertion, and Giroir suggested Thursday that the CDC “don’t really have the data or the data are weak.”
“Dr. Walensky said in rare circumstances, a vaccinated person may transmit. Well, if it’s 1 percent, 0.1 percent, 0.01 percent, there’s no reason for the mask recommendations, but we don’t know because they won’t tell us,” he said. “We need to know the information, so we can have an intelligent, science-based debate and I hope they do it as soon as possible today. It should have been done two days ago.”
Giroir then reiterated that amidst “all this confusion and misinformation, one thing remains clear: If you are vaccinated, you are at least 95 percent protected against serious consequences, hospitalizations, and death and no matter what is going on … that is the reason we want everyone to get vaccinated. And that is true for Delta and every single variant.”
The former HHS official went on to say that certain people who have been fully vaccinated should receive a third dose of the vaccine to stave off so-called “breakthrough” infections of COVID-19.
“We know that the breakthrough infections that land you into the hospital are much more common in those over 65 and those who are immunosuppressed,” he said, “so I am supportive in those groups right now, to get a third dose of the vaccine, because those are the ones who are really having the breakthrough deaths and hospitalizations.”
Giroir concluded by reiterating that it was “just a matter of time” before unvaccinated Americans or those who had not previously had the virus became infected.
“Remember, you can get the flu every year. It’s not because your immunity isn’t good. It’s because the flu changes,” he said. “And Delta is really a new strain that is different than everything we’ve seen.”
According to the CDC, 179.2 million adults (69.4 percent of Americans 18 and older) had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Thursday. A total of 163.9 Americans (nearly 58 percent of the eligible population for a vaccine) are considered fully vaccinated.