The White House on Friday issued a stark warning about the COVID-19 Delta variant and its transmissibility, urging Americans once again to get vaccinated if they haven’t yet done so.
Watch the briefing stream in the video player above.
Speaking at the White House briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the variant “spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another, and it’s spreading rapidly.”
She said both vaccinated and unvaccinated people infected with Delta “have higher viral loads, meaning more virus in their body than with previous variants,” adding that the high viral loads makes the virus more likely to spread.
Jean-Pierre noted that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the Delta variant is “the most infectious respiratory disease…she has seen in the last twenty years.”
The comments follow scientific research released Friday that concluded vaccinated people who got so-called breakthrough infections carried about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots.
The findings were key in this week’s decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infection surges. The authors said the findings suggest the CDC’s mask guidance should be expanded to include the entire country, even outside of hot spots.
Jean-Pierre used the warning to urge Americans anew to get a COVID vaccine if they haven’t yet done so, underscoring that is the way to “stop the spread of this variant.”
Still, Jean-Pierre insisted there are no efforts in the works to implement a national vaccine mandate, saying that “is not under consideration at this time.”
Asked if more lockdowns issued by the White House are imminent, she said the “goal is to make sure that we are not headed towards that.”
“The way we see this is that we have the tools in our tool belt to fight this this this variant,” Jean-Pierre said. “Our role again is to make sure that we get that we get people vaccinated as quickly as possible…and so that is what we’re going to continue to do.”