NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins: Delta Variant Is A "Different Virus," "Hit The Reset Button" On Everything We Learned About COVID | Video | RealClearPolitics

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins: Delta Variant Is A "Different Virus," "Hit The Reset Button" On Everything We Learned About COVID


National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins discusses new health guidance with FNC's Dana Perino as the "Delta variant" coronavirus spreads across the U.S.

FRANCIS COLLINS: Let me start with the bad news. Delta is spreading. We know it is extremely contagious. And certainly in some parts of the country, like Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, it is reaching very high levels. And we are now again seeing case numbers close in on 100,000 per day, which we haven't seen since February. This is really a different virus, as we react to it you have to sort of hit the reset button on everything we learned about COVID a year ago.

We also are learning, and this is not particularly good news, that vaccinated people, if they get infected, which is rare but it does happen, they have pretty high viral loads. Which means they can be passing it to other people, even though they have a very low risk of being seriously ill themselves.

That was the reason for CDC saying it's time, in those places where the virus is spreading, which is about 75 percent of our counties, to put the masks back on when you're in an indoor space where it -- whether you're vaccinated or not. This is the best way to stop the transmission of this very contagious virus.

So those are the bad things.

The good things, the vaccines work extremely well, including against Delta. If you're vaccinated right now, your chance of getting infected by this goes down by at least three-and-a-half-fold. Your likelihood of having symptoms goes down by eight-fold. Your likelihood of getting really significantly ill, in the hospital, goes down by 25-fold. That's an extremely encouraging new set of data from the real world where we're tracking this. So vaccinations are still our best hope. And they are working beautifully, but, of course, we need to be sure that all people take advantage of that.

So the other part of the good news that I'm happy to see is I think we may, Dana, have seen a tipping point now where vaccinations are going up every week, 56 percent increase in vaccinations in the last couple of weeks, especially in those areas hardest hit. Goodness (ph), Louisiana has tripled their rate of vaccinations in the last couple of weeks. That means people are finally sort of saying, OK, I waited long enough, let's do this.

And I would like everybody listening to this, this morning, to think about that. Don't you want to be part of that tipping point? If you haven't yet gotten vaccinated, the evidence is now overwhelming. There are so many things that are not going to be easy for you to do if you're not vaccinated. Companies are starting to require this. Just let's get off the fence, move forward, and be part of the winning team that gets this Delta out of here.
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