White House criticizes Washington Post and New York Times for ‘irresponsible’ tweets about CDC investigation

Ben Wakana, White House Deputy Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement who is also part of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, ripped open the sales channels

A White House official has criticized the Washington Post and The New York Times for “completely irresponsible” and “unreal” tweets about a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on vaccines and transmission of COVID.

The CDC released a new study Friday that analyzed data on coronavirus infections in Massachusetts — which found that 75% of people infected with the Delta variant had been fully vaccinated.

The Washington Post and The New York Times reportedly obtained internal memos from the CDC, which partially cited that Provincetown research, warning that the Delta variant spreads just as easily as the chickenpox.

Ben Wakana, the White House deputy director of Strategic Communications and Engagement who is also part of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, tore up the sales channels for reporting on the investigation without providing context.

It was seen as a rare White House condemnation of the prestigious news outlets — and the sharpest criticism of them since President Joe Biden took office.

Wakana's criticism was seen as a rare White House condemnation of the prestigious news outlets - and the sharpest criticism of them since Joe Biden took office

Wakana’s criticism was seen as a rare White House condemnation of the prestigious news outlets – and the sharpest criticism of them since Joe Biden took office

The Washington Post tweeted Friday: “Three-quarters of people infected with a massive Covid-19 outbreak in Massachusetts were the vaccinated people, a pivotal CDC study finds.”

Wakana immediately tore the tweet, calling it “completely irresponsible.”

“Three days ago, the CDC made it clear that vaccinated individuals represent a VERY SMALL amount of transmission across the country,” Wakana tweeted.

‘Almost all hospital admissions and deaths are still among the unvaccinated. Unreal not to put that in context.’

Meanwhile, The New York Times tweeted a link to their own article, citing the same memo as the Washington Post.

The New York Times tweeted: “Breaking News: The Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and can be spread by vaccinated people just as easily as unvaccinated people, according to an internal CDC report.”

Wakana then ripped into the Gray Lady in all caps: “VACCINED PEOPLE DO NOT SEND THE VIRUS IN THE SAME DEGREE AS ​​NON-VACCINED PEOPLE AND IF YOU DON’T INCLUDE THAT CONTEXT, IT WILL BE WRONG.”

He later tweeted, “Let’s be clear. If 10 vaccinated people walked into a room full of COVID, about 9 of them would walk out of the room WITHOUT COVID. Nine of them.’

The CDC has noted that all authorized vaccines have demonstrated 65% to 95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic, lab-confirmed COVID-19 — and over 89% efficacy against coronavirus severe enough to require hospitalization.

A chart from the CDC study shows new cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, even among those who have been vaccinated

A chart from the CDC study shows new cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, even among those who have been vaccinated

Pedestrians reflected in a shop window walking down Commercial Street in Provincetown

Pedestrians reflected in a shop window walking down Commercial Street in Provincetown

Bartender Denis Angelov pours drinks at Tin Pan Alley restaurant in Provincetown in April

Bartender Denis Angelov pours drinks at Tin Pan Alley restaurant in Provincetown in April

While some breakthrough cases are possible, the CDC has said vaccines significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 — even against the Delta variant.

The new study focused on an outbreak in the Cape Cod town of Provincetown, a busy tourist hotspot in Barnstable County, after the weekend of July 4.

It found 469 cases of COVID-19 associated with multiple summer events and large public gatherings — even though 69% of Massachusetts residents had been vaccinated.

Researchers said 346 cases — or 74% — occurred in fully vaccinated people. Scientists did DNA sequencing on 133 of those patients and found that 119 of them, or 89%, had the Delta variant.

The study found that 79% of vaccinated patients with breakthrough infection were symptomatic. There were five COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized, four of whom were fully vaccinated – although no deaths were reported.

Researchers found that the Delta variant is “highly transmissible,” but that “vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent serious illness and death.”

The study found that viral loads, which indicate how likely it is that someone can transmit the virus to others, were similar among 127 fully vaccinated people and 84 people who were not or partially vaccinated.

The new study came after the CDC recommended Tuesday that even those who are fully vaccinated should wear masks in indoor public areas in areas where transmission of COVID-19 is high or significant.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky called the ‘critical discovery’ on viral loads ‘concerning’ in a pronunciation issued Friday.

“High viral loads indicate an increased risk of transmission and allowed vaccinated people infected with Delta, unlike other variants, to transmit the virus,” she said.

“This finding is worrisome and was a pivotal discovery that led to the CDC’s updated mask recommendation. The masking recommendation has been updated to ensure that the vaccinated public does not unknowingly transmit the virus to others, including their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones.”

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