Story at a glance

  • “We’re vaccinating so very fast, our data from the CDC today suggests, you know, that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick, and that it’s not just in the clinical trials but it’s also in real world data,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
  • The CDC later told The New York Times Walensky was speaking broadly during the interview.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is clarifying claims made by the agency’s director that people vaccinated against COVID-19 will not become infected with the coronavirus or spread it to others. 

In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow earlier this week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cited a study from the agency released Monday that found people who received both doses of both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine were 90 percent less likely to be infected with the virus. 


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“We can kind of almost see the end,” Walensky told Maddow. “We’re vaccinating so very fast, our data from the CDC today suggests, you know, that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick, and that it’s not just in the clinical trials but it’s also in real world data.”

Walensky went on to emphasize the importance of vaccinated people to continue wearing masks and social distancing. 

The claim, however, prompted criticism from some scientists who said while transmission from vaccinated people may be unlikely, there is not enough data to claim those vaccinated are completely protected and can’t carry the virus and spread it to others. 

“It’s much harder for vaccinated people to get infected, but don’t think for one second that they cannot get infected,” Paul Duprex, director of the Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, told The New York Times. 

“If Dr. Walensky had said most vaccinated people do not carry virus, we would not be having this discussion,” John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, told the outlet.

“What we know is the vaccines are very substantially effective against infection — there’s more and more data on that — but nothing is 100 percent.” 

The CDC later told the Times Walensky was speaking broadly during the interview. 

“It’s possible that some people who are fully vaccinated could get COVID-19. The evidence isn’t clear whether they can spread the virus to others. We are continuing to evaluate the evidence,” a CDC spokesman told the Times. 

The CDC study found the two mRNA vaccines prevented 90 percent of infections two weeks after patients received the second of two doses, including asymptomatic and presymptomatic infections. Following a single dose of either vaccine, the participants’ risk of infection dropped by 80 percent. 


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Published on Apr 02, 2021