FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims The CDC Director Said COVID-19 Vaccines Are ‘Failing’
An image shared on Facebook claims CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said COVID-19 vaccines are “failing” and vaccinated individuals can be “super-spreaders.”
There is no record of Walensky saying that vaccines are “failing” or that vaccinated individuals are “super-spreaders.” In a recent press release, she said the viral loads of vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant were “similarly high” to those of unvaccinated individuals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in late July updated its guidance on mask-wearing for vaccinated individuals, recommending they “wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
Following the agency’s updated guidance, a screen grab of an article from Natural News started circulating on Facebook and Instagram that alleges the CDC confessed “vaccines are failing, and the vaxxed can be super spreaders.” It claims Walensky made the comments, saying, “Via the words of the CDC’s own director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, vaccines are now failing, and vaccinated people may now carry higher viral loads than unvaccinated people, contributing to the spread of covid.”
Natural News has previously published false claims that have been debunked by fact-checkers. (RELATED: Did The CDC Say 7 Out Of 10 Americans Are ‘Declining’ To Get Covid-19 Vaccines?)
A review of press releases put out by the CDC turned up no record of the agency or Walensky making such comments, contrary to the screen grab’s claim. There also isn’t any evidence of either Walensky or the CDC making statements to that effect in news reports from national media outlets.
In a July 30 statement on data published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Walensky said that Delta variant infections “resulted in similarly high SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated people.” Viral load is the amount of virus present in an infected person’s body, according to NBC News.
“High viral load suggests an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus,” she said in the press release. “This finding is concerning and was a pivotal discovery leading to CDC’s updated mask recommendation.”
The MMWR report mentioned by Walensky in the press release discussed an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among people who had traveled to a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, during July 3 to 17. Of the 469 COVID-19 cases identified following multiple large public gatherings there, 346 of them occurred in fully vaccinated individuals, according to the MMWR report. The Delta variant was found in 90 percent of specimens from 133 people.
While vaccinated individuals can experience breakthrough infections on rare occasions, that does not mean COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective. The three vaccines authorized in the U.S. are “highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant,” according to the CDC. Data on the CDC website shows that of the over 164 million fully vaccinated people in the U.S. as of Aug. 2, only about 7,500 reported patients with breakthrough infections were hospitalized or died.
During a July 27 press briefing, Walensky said that “vaccinated individuals continue to represent a very small amount of transmission occurring around the country.” The CDC continues to “estimate that the risk of a breakthrough infection with symptoms upon exposure to the Delta variant is reduced by sevenfold” and “reduction is 20-fold for hospitalizations and deaths,” she also noted in the briefing.
“Vaccinating more Americans now is more urgent than ever,” Walensky went on to say in the briefing. “The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates and among unvaccinated people.”
Check Your Fact reached out to the CDC for comment and will update this article if a response is provided.