CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Struggles with Messaging on Coronavirus Vaccines

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Rochelle Walensky (AP)

CHARLIE SPIERING

Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky again clarified comments she made to reporters on Tuesday, after admitting that the coronavirus vaccines were not preventing the spread of the Delta variant of the virus.

“What they weren’t studied in the clinical trials is to whether they prevent transmission,” Walensky said during the coronavirus briefing. “Initially, they did with Alpha. Unfortunately, they no longer do with Delta.”

Walensky said that vaccinated Americans were still spreading the virus, which is why she repeated that it was important for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in areas of high spread.

“The good news is that the vaccines really do work to prevent getting sick. However, for those people who do get sick, we are suggesting — the data suggests that you could potentially transmit,” she said.

After the briefing, Walensky clarified her remarks on social media, reminding Americans that the vaccine was still protecting vaccinated people from the Delta variant of the disease.

“I want to be clear – the majority of #COVID19 spread in the US is among the unvaccinated,” she wrote. “Vaccinated people can spread the virus if they get a breakthrough infection, but the odds of them getting sick in the first place are far lower than those who are unvaccinated.”

Walensky’s comments were shared by White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

This is the second clarification from Walensky since trying to reinstate mask mandates in areas of high spread last week.

In an interview on Fox News, Walensky sparked controversy after she said a nationwide federal vaccine mandate was being considered by the federal government.

“To clarify: There will be no nationwide mandate,” she wrote. “I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate.”