COVID Delta Variant as Contagious as Chickenpox, Carries Greater Hospital Risk: CDC Docs

The COVID-19 Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and may carry a greater risk for ending up in the hospital than the Alpha variant, according to internal documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The documents, obtained by the Washington Post, said that the Delta variant, initially found in India, is not only as contagious as chickenpox but also more contagious than the common cold, flu, smallpox and the Ebola virus. It cited studies conducted in Canada, Singapore and Scotland that found the Delta variant is more dangerous than the Alpha variant, first discovered in the United Kingdom, in regards to the risks for intensive care and death alongside hospitalization.

The documents seem to be CDC staff talking points to detail the risks of the Delta variant and "breakthrough" infections that occur in those already vaccinated, the Associated Press reported.

Under communications in the document, it said: "Acknowledge the war has changed."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Man Wearing Mask in New York City
Internal CDC documents obtained by the Washington Post say that the Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox. In this photo, people wear masks while walking in Grand Central Terminal on July 27, 2021 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New evidence showing the Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and may be more dangerous than other versions has prompted U.S. health officials to consider changing advice on how the nation fights the coronavirus, according to the internal documents.

Recommending masks for everyone and requiring vaccines for doctors and other health care providers are among measures the CDC is considering, according to the internal documents.

In recommending that vaccinated people resuming wearing masks indoors in virus hot spots, the CDC this week said that new evidence shows that breakthrough infections may be as transmissible as those in unvaccinated people. They cited a large recent outbreak among vaccinated individuals in the Cape Cod town of Provincetown, Massachusetts, among others, for the change.

Since January, people who got infected after vaccination make up an increasing portion of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths among COVID-19 patients, according to the documents. That trend coincides with the spread of the Delta variant.

But the CDC emphasizes that COVID-19 vaccines are still highly effective at preventing infections, severe disease and death, and that breakthrough infections are uncommon.

Face Mask Sign
Face mask requirements are posted at the various entrances at the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium where COVID-19 vaccinations are being offered on the Jackson State University campus in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo