HOUSTON - Health officials are now considering the Delta variant, the most transmissible variant of COVID-19 to date.
As cases of the Delta variant increase across the globe, the World Health Organization suggested last Friday that fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks.
The WHO's guidance comes more than a month after the CDC said just the opposite -- that masks are optional in most cases for anyone fully vaccinated.
Vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez with Baylor College of Medicine explains.
"They (WHO) have they have a global landscape, to consider and can't fine-tune it. Outside of the United States and western and northern Europe, basically the world's unvaccinated. So there's going to be a lot more transmission," Hotez said.
According to data from the CDC, roughly 46% of Americans have been fully vaccinated; in Texas, about 57%.
Health experts say southern Missouri has now become the epicenter of the Delta variant breakout. The question is will the vaccines provide enough protection?
"The good news is if you're fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer biotech vaccine and or doses to the Moderna vaccine, it seems to be give a high level of protection, even against the Delta variance. The single-dose J&J is not quite as high and that's reason for the lower levels of protection, it’s still pretty good," Hotez said.
Dr. Hotez said health officials are now considering whether a second dose is necessary for those who've received a single dose of the J&J vaccine.
"The scary part is right now, just about all of the deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people, and you know, no one needs to die from COVID anymore," Hotez said.
On Tuesday, the First Lady and Second Gentleman will visit COVID-19 vaccination sites in Texas and Arizona to encourage everyone in these communities to get vaccinated. These trips are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s nationwide tour to reach millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus, highlight the ease of getting vaccinated, and mobilize grassroots vaccine education and outreach efforts.