Raleigh, N.C. — In an interview with WRAL News Friday, President Biden’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the Delta variant is and will continue to cause some breakthrough infections in vaccinated people. But he said it’s unlikely the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will return to recommending masks for vaccinated people.
WRAL’s David Crabtree asked Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the COVID-19 cases found among vaccinated players on the North Carolina State University baseball team. The outbreak infected eight players and led to their ouster from the College World Series last week.
Fauci said he couldn’t comment on the NCAA’s decision to disqualify the team.
“You will see breakthrough infections, namely people who were fully vaccinated, who still end up getting infected,” Fauci said. “Almost invariably, those infections are really quite mild and often without symptoms at all.”
“We know that these vaccines do very well against the Delta variant in general. They do very well against severe disease,” Fauci explained. “So even though you get a breakthrough infection, it is highly, highly, unlikely, particularly among young, healthy athletes like you have on the team, that that person will wind up having a severe outcome.”
Fauci said that’s the main reason that the CDC is unlikely to issue a blanket recommendation for vaccinated people to return to wearing masks indoors. But he said institutions and officials in areas with active COVID-19 outbreaks may choose to recommend masks locally.
“People on their own may just decide, even though they are fully vaccinated,” Fauci said, “if they’re in a certain category like being elderly or a person with an underlying condition — when they are indoors, they may elect to actually wear a mask, just to get that extra layer of safety.”
Fauci said the Biden administration is sending out response teams to help areas in states like North Carolina where the vaccination rates are low, leaving the population at risk of a Delta variant outbreak.
Crabtree asked Fauci why he thinks some areas of the country are so much less willing to get the vaccine.
“There has been a degree of divisiveness in the country that has spilled over into judgment about public health interventions, and if you look at certain regions of the country that are one political persuasion, they tend much more to have hesitancy about recommendations that come from the federal government or come from the scientific enterprise,” Fauci said. “I wish that were not the case, because the common enemy here is the virus.
“Republican, Democrat, independent, it doesn’t matter — the virus doesn’t care who you are or where you’re from, and that’s the reason why I would hope that most people more and more realize — put all differences aside, and take a look at the responsibility for your own health, and for those around you,” Fauci added.
“It really is a situation where we have to pull together, because if you get infected, even if you don’t get any symptoms of any note, you still might be responsible for passing the virus on to someone else who might have a severe outcome,” Fauci continued. “You want the virus to be stopping dead when it gets to you because it can’t infect you. The best way to do that is to get vaccinated.”