Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced on Monday that scientific evidence suggests people vaccinated against COVID-19 almost never carry the virus.
Appearing for an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, Walensky said: "Our data from the CDC today suggests that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don't get sick, and that it's not just in the clinical trials, but it's also in real-world data."
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky: “Our data from the CDC today suggest that vaccinated people do not carry the vi… https://t.co/SPrrZJJHkb— The Recount (@The Recount) 1617125532.0
On Monday the CDC released a study that found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 90% effective after two doses and were 95% effective in preventing COVID-19. The study looked at nearly 4,000 front-line workers, some of whom were vaccinated and some not, who were tested weekly for COVID-19 between December and March.
Among those who had been vaccinated, only three individuals developed COVID-19 infections, while there were 161 positive COVID-19 cases among those who did not receive a vaccine.
"This is very reassuring news," study lead author Mark Thompson said. "We have a vaccine that's working very well."
On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) cited Walensky in a tweet that called on White House top health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci to admit that vaccinated people are not at risk of spreading COVID-19.
"Please end the mask theater now that cdc admits evidence that vaccinated do not carry the virus," Paul said.
paging Dr Fauci: please end the mask theater now that cdc admits evidence that the vaccinated do not carry the vir… https://t.co/9lXUQfvnOP— Senator Rand Paul (@Senator Rand Paul) 1617204381.0
Earlier this month, Paul and Fauci had a public disagreement over mask-wearing during a Senate hearing on the federal government's COVID-19 response.
Paul argued that there is no data to suggest a vaccinated individual is at risk of carrying or spreading COVID-19 and said that therefore, vaccinated Americans should not have to wear masks or observe social distancing guidelines.
Fauci "totally" disagreed with Paul, warning that new variants of COVID-19 put people at risk of reinfection, but he did not point to a scientific study that shows there is significant risk of that happening.
Paul accused Fauci of "making policy based on conjecture."
Last week, researchers launched a National Institute of Health-backed study to determine if there is significant risk of asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 among people who have received Moderna's vaccine. The study will examine 12,000 college students from 21 different college campuses who volunteer to participate. Half of the volunteers will receive Moderna's vaccine at the onset of the study, while the other half will receive their shots in four months. Researchers will regularly test the students for COVID-19 to see if the vaccine protects against asymptomatic spread.
"We hope that within the next five or so months we'll be able to answer the very important question about whether vaccinated people get infected asymptomatically, and if they do, do they transmit the infection to others," Fauci said during a White House COVID-19 task force briefing on Friday.
In the meantime, the federal government is likely to recommend that people vaccinated for the virus continue to wear masks.