The C.D.C. will recommend that some vaccinated people wear masks indoors again.
Reversing a decision made just two months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend on Tuesday that people vaccinated against the coronavirus resume wearing the mask indoors in certain circumstances.
The change follows reports of an increase in infections with the Delta variant of the virus in fully immune people. But the new guidelines would mark a sharp turnaround in the agency’s stance since May that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most indoor spaces.
As recently as last week, a spokesperson for the agency said the CDC has no plans to change its direction unless there is a significant shift in science. Federal officials met on Sunday evening to examine new evidence that may have prompted the overthrow, CNN reported on Tuesday.
“I think it’s great,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. Based on what scientists are learning about the ability of the Delta variant to cause breakthrough infections, she said, “it’s a step in the right direction.”
Initial CDC guidelines in May said people fully protected from the coronavirus could go indoors without a mask, but recommended that unvaccinated people still wear masks. The recommendations drew strong criticism from some experts, who said it was premature given the large number of unvaccinated people in the country.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC at the time, pointed to two scientific findings as important factors. Few vaccinated people are infected with the virus, and transmission appears even rarer, she noted; and the vaccines appear to be effective against all known variants of the coronavirus.
A day after the announcement, the agency released the results of a large study showing that mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were 94% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in those given two doses, and 82% among those who had received it. dose.
But that data, and the CDC’s decision, was based on infections from previous versions of the virus before the Delta variant began sweeping the country. Reports of clusters of infections among fully immune people have suggested that the variant may be able to cross the vaccine barrier more often than previous iterations of the virus.
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