During Tuesday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy about President Biden said in May that the fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask, to which she replied it was related to “a very different strain of the virus” than the Delta variant.
“And then, on the CDC guidance, why did the President say, ‘If you’ve been fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. Let me repeat: If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask’ if it was possible that that was going to turn out not to be true?” Doocy asked.
“Well, Peter, I think we’re all dealing with an evolving virus where there’s no playbook and no historic precedent. And what the American people should feel confident in is that we are going to continue to be guided by science, look at public health data in order to provide new guidance, if it’s needed, to save lives, to protect the American people,” Psaki responded. “When he made those comments back in May, we were dealing with a very different strain of the virus than we were — than we are today. And Delta is more transmissible. It’s spreading much more quickly. It was nearly non-existent in the United States back in May.”
Doocy later asked Psaki about Biden’s change in guidance again, saying, “if the vaccines work, which this sign says that they do, then why do people who had the vaccine need to now wear masks — the same as people who have not had it?”
“Because the public health leaders in our administration have made the determination, based on data, that that is a way to make sure they’re protected, their loved ones are protected,” Psaki responded. “And that’s an extra step, given the transmissibility of the virus, that people — that they’re advising people to take.”
While the Delta variant has been spreading recently, it has not driven hospitalizations or deaths. “We analyzed these CDC data and found that the hospitalization data support none of the alarming headlines suggesting Delta is more dangerous than earlier strains,” the Wall Street Journal reported, adding, “U.S. hospitalization data also show not only that higher Delta prevalence doesn’t go hand in hand with higher hospitalization rates; these numbers appear inversely correlated—that is, places that had higher percentages of the Delta variant had lower ratios of hospitalized people to Covid cases. Whatever else we know or don’t know about Delta, its prevalence clearly isn’t driving hospitalizations.”
“Studies from Canada and the U.K. show 79% to 87% effectiveness against symptomatic infection with the Delta variant…” the Wall Street Journal added. “This is all excellent news, as is the finding that 99% of hospitalizations for Covid-19 are among unvaccinated people. The vaccines are as good as first heralded, even against new variants. That unvaccinated people are still being hospitalized underscores the continuing need to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”