Dr. Fauci Just Gave This "Disconcerting" COVID Update
The White House COVID adviser acknowledged that the current situation is not exactly ideal.
No matter how much we'd like it to be, the COVID pandemic just isn't over yet. There have been major steps in the right direction—including the recent approval of coronavirus vaccines for children and booster shots for eligible adults—and numbers have been improving since the worst of the summer surge brought on by the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. Still, it's not time to let our guard down completely, as White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, has repeatedly warned. In his latest COVID update, Fauci acknowledged that even with light at the end of the tunnel, there's something "disconcerting" about the current state of the pandemic.
In a Nov. 15 interview hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, Fauci acknowledged that the steady decline seen since the worst of the Delta surge has stalled. "The only thing that's a little bit disconcerting is that we're beginning to plateau," he said, per CNBC. "In other words, the deceleration of cases is now plateaued, and in some areas of the country, we're starting to see a bit of an uptick."
As CNBC notes, Fauci's update shouldn't be a surprise to anyone paying close attention to the numbers. The country reported a seven-day average of 82,000 new cases as of Nov. 14, representing an 11 percent rise from the week prior, according to data from Johns Hopkins University analyzed by CNBC.
Even before cases started to rise again, virus experts had been sounding the alarm about the plateauing of cases. On Nov. 7, Ashish Jha, MD, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, tweeted, "Bad news: rapid declines in cases has plateaued. Over [the] past two weeks, new infections [are] flat at about 75,000 per day."
Now that average is climbing—and the number of new cases is far from what health officials would need to see before considering the pandemic contained. In a CBS News interview on Nov. 14, Fauci said, "We are now at 70,000 to 75,000 cases a day, and over a thousand deaths. That is an unacceptable point to say, 'We've got to live with it.' Absolutely. If you get it way, way, way, way down below that, well below 10,000 a day, that may be something that we can ultimately live with."
Some spike in numbers was probably inevitable. Many experts and health officials—including Fauci—warned that colder weather would bring about an increase in cases, as people move indoors where the virus can spread more easily. Meanwhile, less than 59 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That rate is not nearly enough to achieve herd immunity, particularly given the waning effectiveness of the vaccines.
It will likely be impossible to avoid another surge entirely, but there are ways it can be mitigated. In a Nov. 14 interview on CBS News' Face the Nation, former Food & Drug Administration (FDA) head Scott Gottlieb, MD, acknowledged that "we're going to see a post-holiday spike," and added, "People are exhausted right now, but we need to remain vigilant just for a little bit longer." Increased vaccination, indoor masking, and booster shots can go a long way toward keeping cases down, virus experts have reiterated.
But even with the case numbers showing a slight rise, Fauci has continued to advocate for spending time with vaccinated family and friends over the holidays, as long as you're also fully vaccinated. It's an important reminder that the situation heading into the winter of 2021 is significantly better than it was one year ago. "When you're with your family at home, goodness, enjoy it with your parents, your children, your grandparents," he said during the Bipartisan Policy Center interview. "There's no reason not to do that."