Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said COVID-19 vaccines still provide strong protection against serious disease and death, even as new research shows vaccinated individuals can spread the worrying Delta variant.

Gottlieb noted that the COVID-19 vaccines were primarily intended to significantly reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization. Unvaccinated individuals account for the overwhelming majority of new hospitalizations and deaths.

“That premise is still fully intact,” said Gottlieb. “We still see that these vaccines are doing a very good job preventing symptomatic disease, preventing hospitalization and death.”

Transcript: Dr. Scott Gottlieb on “Face the Nation”
The vaccine was also intended to reduce both asymptomatic and symptomatic infection, thereby reducing the spread of transmission and making the vaccines an important public health tool in combating the pandemic.

“That premise is still intact,” Gottlieb says. “But what we see with the Delta variant is it’s diminished. There is more evidence that people are likely to spread the Delta variant even after vaccination than they were likely to spread the other variants. But it’s still a very small percentage of people.”

The Delta variant, scientifically known as B.1.617.2, can spread more easily than other variants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last week, the agency released sobering data indicating that vaccinated individuals could still spread the Delta variant. The study found that three-quarters of new cases during a recent outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, were among those who were fully vaccinated.

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