As the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus gained traction around the world, the World Health Organization urged vaccinated people to continue to wear masks and social distance, according to reports.
“Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a briefing in Geneva, according to CNBC. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.”
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday called the Delta variant “the most transmissible of the variants identified so far … and is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations,” the Voice of America reported.
The recommendation comes weeks after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people can go most places without masks. However, federal mandates remain on airplanes, for example.
The U.S. has a higher vaccination rate than many countries struggling with the variant, and daily infection rates have fallen sharply in the U.S. in the last few months as more Americans have gotten the vaccine.
At least 53.9% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, 63% of Americans over 12, according to the CDC. Children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
Nearly all virus-related deaths by May were from unvaccinated people, an analysis from The Associated Press found. Deaths of vaccinated people was 0.1% of the total.