Dr. Fauci Just Said This New COVID Myth Could Be Putting You in Danger

The virus isn't behaving the way others do—and that could mean it keeps on spreading.

While vaccines and continued adherence to public health measures—like wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands—are all effective means of reducing your risk of catching COVID, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief COVID adviser to President Joe Biden, says that there's one common misconception about the virus that could put your health in danger. During a Feb. 8 White House COVID-19 Response Team press conference, Fauci admitted that no one should count on COVID slowing down naturally in the near future. Read on to discover what Fauci said about how the virus could be changing—and what that means for its transmissibility going forward. And for more insight into the pandemic, President Biden Just Gave This Bleak COVID Update.

Fauci said there's no indication that the virus will become less infectious and peter out.

Woman wearing face mask at airport and maintaining social distance
william87 / iStock

When asked if, as has been the case with some other viruses, COVID was likely to become less virulent with time, Fauci said that there's no reason to believe that will be the case with COVID.

"We certainly don't have any data indicating that it's mutating into a less virulent strain," said Fauci. "Sometimes, when viruses mutate to spread more efficiently, they become less virulent, but we do not have any data to indicate that that is, in fact, happening with SARS CoV-2." And if you want to know how quickly coronavirus is spreading near you, find out How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.

However, he said there's no definitive sign it's becoming more virulent, either.

Woman wearing sneezing into her elbow while wearing protective face mask at home.
iStock

While it's highly unlikely that the virus will go away on its own, Fauci said there's not enough information to definitively say whether or not the virus is becoming more infectious as it spreads throughout the U.S. "One a one-to-one basis, whether or not it is actually more virulent, we don't have any indication that that's the case here," said Fauci. And if you want to play it safe, find out why Dr. Fauci Says Don't Do This After Your First COVID Shot.

He also had "sobering news" about the spread of COVID variants in the U.S.

Female doctor doing at home visit to a patient.
iStock

Though Fauci explained that the original COVID strain remains dominant in the U.S., he admitted that new strains of the virus, including B.1.1.7., a strain initially reported in the U.K., are quickly catching up. As of Feb. 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 690 cases of the U.K. variant in the U.S. across 33 states.

"The immediate concern that we have is that we have the 1.1.7. in certainly a considerable number of states… Modeling would tell us that it could become dominant by the end of March," Fauci said. "That's the sobering news." And for the latest COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

But he admitted that there's reason to be hopeful, too.

Senior male doctor vaccinates a young man in a doctor's office
iStock

Despite the predictive modeling that has thus far shown that new variants of COVID could soon overtake the original strain, Fauci explained that things are not as dire as they seem.

"The vaccines that we're currently distributing right now are quite effective against that [B.1.1.7] variant," Fauci noted. While he admitted that the vaccines currently available in the U.S. are not as effective at preventing B.1.3.5.1, a variant of the virus first discovered in South Africa, that doesn't mean a major uptick in new infections is a foregone conclusion.

"Hopefully, we will get the virus under much better control by the time there's any indication that that might become dominant," said Fauci. And for more on what's the come, check out COVID Could Take This Scary Turn Next Month, Study Finds.

Filed Under