FACT CHECK: Did Dr. Leana Wen Admit The COVID-19 Vaccine Is The Delta Variant?

Ryan King | Contributor

A video shared on Instagram claims Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore health commissioner, admitted the COVID-19 vaccine is the Delta variant.

Verdict: False

Wen did not admit the COVID-19 vaccine is the Delta variant. The clip of her featured in the post was taken out of context.

Fact Check:

The video shared on Instagram shows an excerpt of a July interview Wen did with Democracy Now in which she discussed the latest federal COVID-19 guidelines, global vaccine inequity and vaccine hesitancy. At the start of the clip, she says, “And those who are vaccinated, we now know, based on the CDC, they are now able — but with the Delta variant, because they carry so much more virus, they could transmit it to their unvaccinated family members.” The post’s caption alleges this remark was an admission from Wen that “The vaccines are the delta variant.”

A review of Wen’s entire interview with Democracy Now, however, reveals her comment has been inaccurately characterized and taken out of context. The transcript and the full video of the exchange show Wen’s comments in the clip were about the risk those who are vaccinated have of transmitting the Delta variant due to its higher degree of transmissibility.

Just prior to the comments in the video, Wen and Democracy Now host Amy Goodman were discussing the Delta variant and a clip of President Joe Biden admonishing the unvaccinated when Wen states, “And so I think people who are unvaccinated should really know that they are at high risk and also that this is not just — I mean, I agree with everything in the clip that you played from President Biden, but this is not just a pandemic of the unvaccinated. This is also spilling over to the vaccinated.”

These remarks directly precede those featured in the Instagram video and make clear she is talking about the risk the Delta variant poses to the vaccinated. At no point throughout the interview does Wen suggest the COVID-19 vaccine is the Delta variant or is causing the Delta variant. (RELATED: No, COVID-19 Vaccines Do Not Cause Recipients To Develop HIV)

Wen’s statements about the Delta variant are supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC states on its website that the Delta variant is more contagious than previous variants and can be spread by those who are vaccinated if they contract it. The CDC’s website also notes that none of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. use a live version of the COVID-19 virus, meaning it is not possible to contract COVID-19 from the vaccines.

Wen did not return a request for comment by the time of publication.

Ryan King