The Delta variant of COVID-19 is far more contagious than the original strains of the disease and even if people were able to get by last year without masks or vaccinations, "that doesn't mean you're going to get by this year," former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told Newsmax Friday.
"People need to understand that we're going in the wrong direction very rapidly," Adams said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America," while commenting on the news that Los Angeles County has reinstated its mask mandate in the wake of rising COVID cases.
"I want people to first understand two numbers when we talk about containment, getting this virus under control, getting away from mitigation measures," said Adams. "We were looking at less than 10,000 cases a day in the United States, and we were almost there in June."
But when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people need not wear masks, people "heard" it as masks were no longer needed, said Adams, and now the country is at 20,000 cases a day again.
"People need to understand we're going in the wrong direction, very rapidly," said Adams. "Number two, the Delta variant is three to four times more contagious than original strains of COVID ... those health officials are looking at belts and suspenders. They're really trying to do everything they can to protect the community."
He added that he doesn't think health agencies should be compelling people to get vaccinated, but rather educate them and let them make a choice.
"Please understand if we can get enough people vaccinated, that will obviate the need for many of these mitigation measures," said Adams.
The Delta variant is said not to be as deadly as former versions of the disease, even if it is more contagious, but that poses its own set of problems, said Adams.
"Three times as many people are getting it, and that means you have three times as many chances for someone to die," said Adams. "The virus itself is not more deadly, but it actually could have a broader impact."
He also noted that the Delta variant is more elusive when it comes to antibodies from prior infections, but the vaccine does give better protection against the spread of the Delta variant, and he said he'd ask that people also would consider getting vaccinated to protect the community around them, as there are many people who can't get shots either for age or health condition reasons.
He also said he's concerned that the Food and Drug Administration has still not given full authorization beyond emergency use for the vaccines, which he thinks leans to the reason many people aren't getting their shots.
"If we can get enough people vaccinated, we've shown that we've been able to decrease the trajectory of slopes," said Adams. "Please consider getting vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider. Don't trust me. Don't trust Tony Fauci. Trust your own healthcare provider. Make a choice that's right for you as to whether or not you get vaccinated, but understand that if we can get enough people vaccinated, we actually can start to move away from this pandemic."
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