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Health Insider: Valley doctor weighs in on concerns over Delta variant, new mask guidance

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Posted at 6:55 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 01:41:58-04

PHOENIX — Officials with the World Health Organization on Friday encouraged those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to continue to wear masks in certain situations, citing the dangers the Delta variant poses to those who are still unvaccinated.

During a press conference on Friday, officials with the WHO noted that to help reduce the community spread of COVID-19, those who are fully vaccinated should still take some precautions.

RELATED: Delta variant becoming more prominent COVID-19 variant in Arizona

The recommendation comes as countries around the world are imposing new health restrictions to combat the spread of the Delta variant — a more contagious mutation of the virus that officials suspect is 50 to 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant of COVID-19, which was first observed in the U.K.

DATA BREAKDOWN: COVID-19 Delta variant on the rise in Arizona

ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona Medical Center is joining the World Health Organization in recommending everyone, including fully vaccinated people, wear masks as the Delta variant continues to spread.

"I think this is the wisest thing to do because we want to keep the economy open. We want to keep our kids in school. We don't want to shut anything down, but we know masks work, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, masks will work. They will protect you from the Delta variant."

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CONTINUE TO WEAR MASKS? IS DELTA VARIANT MORE CONTAGIOUS?

"It's partially because it's more contagious. It's also because of data that we have coming out of Israel in the last few weeks where half of all the adults that have been diagnosed with COVID in the Delta variant, were actually fully vaccinated. And when you look at that, plus the fact that all of our children under 12 are unvaccinated. That same data out of Israel also showed that half of all the people who got COVID in the last few weeks there were actually unvaccinated children. I think, you know, it raises more questions than answers, especially when we see that there's only a certain percentage of us, you know, 49% or so with one dose and one dose can be only 33% effective, according to data coming out of the UK, where the Delta variant really took over there."

IS THERE A GREATER RISK OF SO-CALLED BREAKTHROUGH CASES?

"I think we need to see more data. But until we do because of the fact that there are cases and we are seeing higher rates of hospitalizations, definitely for sure, in people who are unvaccinated, but we're seeing more positive cases of breakthrough. And people who are fully vaccinated, I think we should take a better safe than sorry approach. Because it is spreading, as was noted, it's already 20% of cases in the US. It is here in Arizona, and it's doubling every two weeks. So until I get more data to feel comfortable about that. I think it's better to protect folks, especially people who have kids at home or on vaccinated."

SCHOOL STARTS IN SOME DISTRICTS IN ABOUT THREE OR FOUR WEEKS, KNOWING THAT KIDS ARE NOT AS SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE VIRUS, SHOULD DISTRICTS CONSIDER A MASK RULE?

"Well, they're less susceptible to the original variants, and the alpha variant, and the original strains of COVID-19. But we're seeing more cases, like I said, the data coming out of Israel is particularly concerning. We also saw more children infected in the UK as well with the Delta variants. So because of that, I think again, a better safe than sorry approach makes sense. With wearing masks in school as well."

The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at HealthInsider@abc15.com.

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