Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing.

  • Fully vaccinated Americans may "want to consider" masks indoors, Dr. Fauci said.
  • Fauci said the Delta variant had an "extraordinary capability of transmitting from person to person."
  • More fully vaccinated Americans are catching Covid-19, albeit with milder, or no, symptoms.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US' top doctor, said fully vaccinated people may "want to consider" wearing masks indoors to help protect against the Delta coronavirus variant, which is spreading fast across the country.

Dr. Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor, told CNBC on Wednesday that "if you want to go the extra mile of safety even though you're vaccinated when you're indoors, particularly in crowded places, you might want to consider wearing a mask."

Fauci explained that wearing a mask indoors was "suggested" when a virus was spreading fast in a community.

The Delta variant is more infectious, and has mutations that help it avoid the body's immune response. As it spreads in the US, more fully-vaccinated Americans are catching Covid-19 - albeit with milder, or no, symptoms.

"This virus is clearly different than the viruses and the variants that we've had experience with before. It has an extraordinary capability of transmitting from person to person," Fauci said.

The Centers for Disease for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that fully-vaccinated people don't need to wear masks, except in certain situations, for example during flights.

States, workplaces and businesses can enforce their own mask rules.

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The public health body has come under pressure to review it's guidance in recent weeks due to the emergence of the Delta variant, which is at least 50% more infectious than the formerly-dominant Alpha variant.

Delta now accounts for 83% of all new infections in the US. The nation recorded 52,032 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Jerome Adams, former Surgeon General, said Sunday that "the emerging data suggests CDC should be advising to vax it and mask it." The World Health Organization said June 26 that fully-vaccinated people should wear masks in public settings.

More than 161 million Americans are fully-vaccinated, or 48% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some states have already urged fully-vaccinated citizens to put their masks back on.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said June 28 that it "strongly recommends everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places as a precautionary measure," citing the more-infectious Delta variant.

Clark County, Nevada, home to Las Vegas, re-introduced mask mandates indoors for all workers on Wednesday.

Despite his views on masks, Fauci said that "the easiest and best and most effective way that we can prevent the emergence of a new variant and crush the already existing Delta variant is to get everyone vaccinated."

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine is 88% effective at preventing Covid-19 with symptoms caused by the Delta variant, according to real-world UK data published Wednesday.

In the US, 99.5% of Covid-19 deaths are among unvaccinated people. "That is a statistic that speaks for itself," Fauci said.

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