The World Health Organization said on Friday that fully vaccinated people should continue social distancing, including the wearing of masks, in order to stop community transmission of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
The delta variant was first identified in India, where the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow and devastate the population. It has since spread to the U.S., where experts believe as many as 20% of new coronavirus cases are due to the delta variant.
Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, told reporters on Friday that social distancing needs to continue, even for those who are fully vaccinated.
“People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves,” Simao said.
“Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” Simao continued. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene… the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden said in comments from Raleigh, North Carolina, that the emergence of the delta variant in the U.S. should encourage parents to get their children vaccinated.
“Six hundred thousand-plus Americans have died, and with this delta variant you know there’s going to be others as well. You know it’s going to happen,” he said. “We’ve got to get young people vaccinated.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that the emergence of the delta variant was the “greatest threat” to the effort to stamp out the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
Health officials in India have also recently indicated that a new variant is emerging, which they call delta plus.
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