CDC stands firm on mask stance
On Sunday, the CDC went on the offensive, defending its position on changing mask usage for vaccinated Americans. Anjalee Khemlani is collapsing, as is the position of the CDC, which, according to the organization, has to do with the development of science and not with political motives.
JULIE HYMAN: Well, the CDC has come under fire in some areas because it may have changed its mass leadership too abruptly or not clearly enough. These are some of the criticisms that have been made of the agency. Anjalee Khemlani is here with us. This brings a change to the guidelines on Friday that essentially removes many mask requirements for many places for vaccinated people. So what do we know about what was behind the decision and why it was a bit controversial?
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Well the whole story is very complicated. And many reports highlight different parts of what came into play in making that decision. By and large, the CDC received new data to support the idea that vaccinated individuals should not be required to wear masks in most rooms. Early last month we saw where there was almost a checklist of whether you are indoors or outdoors with vaccinated or unvaccinated people. And it was very complex and also a lot of criticism for the fact that the average person could not possibly understand much of it.
With the new data showing how powerful these vaccines are, the CDC has lifted this mandate or guidance on where masks can be worn. And it's important to note that there are still places where people should wear masks even if they are vaccinated, including transportation hubs. But we saw how it all worked out over the weekend. States choose to either keep their mask mandates, if they already have them, or companies decide whether to lift mask mandates or not.
And it's really confusing. There are some people who are still cautious and know that of course breakthrough cases are still possible. So now it may be even more confusing because people have been so careful or want to stay more careful. And that is what the CDC has to deal with right now.
JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, there doesn't seem to be any harm in wearing a mask if people still want to. I would also like to ask about some of the developments that we are seeing with vaccinations, but also with the coronavirus, which is spread around the world. We know Indian cases drop a little. But we're seeing big bumps in other places like Taiwan as there are some developments with other new vaccines that haven't been approved yet.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Right. So if you look at what's going on in Taiwan, they have received more than 700 cases in the past three days, all of which are basically from a hotel or hub that was attended by both quarantined people and transit visitors. That suggests A, Vaccines, and B even more mitigation practices are needed to stay in place. As we know, this virus continues to travel around the world. Experts have repeatedly said that there are no limits.
So what's happening in Taiwan right now is interesting to watch. They have less than 1% of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. Compare that, of course, to the mask debate and everything that's going on with vaccinations here in the US. We know that 43 - more than 43% of the population is now vaccinated. And that's really positive news in comparison. But what remains to be checked, of course, is how all the damage control tactics will come into play.
And what happens with the global vaccine rollout, we learned today from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline that their vaccine, which they worked on together, has finally come out of the second phase. And they have a positive indication of this study. And now you are about to enter the third phase.
An interesting timeline, of course, because we know there are so many countries that have high vaccination rates, like the US, but there are still many countries without them, as in the case of Taiwan. And they see that as a market and possibly a big booster market for this vaccine. So they're still going through it. So a lot is coming out of it right now and it's still sad to say, but we are still in the middle of this pandemic, at least globally.
JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, definitely. Hopefully we can still see some of these vaccines online. Thank you, Angelee. Am grateful.
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CG: PHI@SF - 6/18/21