Dr. Fauci Says This Is What's "Discouraging" About COVID Now in New Interview
The pandemic is far from over, and there are several worrying signs.
With almost no restrictions left and new viruses to worry about, COVID has become something of an afterthought these days. But the pandemic is far from over. In fact, the coronavirus is still transmitting at high levels throughout a majority of the U.S., according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People are still being infected every day—like President Joe Biden, who is experiencing a rebound COVID case following the treatment of his initial infection at the end of July. Now, one of the nation's top virus experts has opened up about the current state of the coronavirus. Read on to find out what he said is "discouraging" about COVID right now.
Hospitalization rates are four times higher than they were four months ago.
Nearly two and a half years into the COVID pandemic, the CDC said cases and hospitalizations have "been on the rise" because of a newly dominant version of the virus: the Omicron subvariant BA.5. According to the agency's latest data, daily new cases did decrease by less than 1 percent this week compared to last, but daily hospital admissions have increased by nearly 2 percent in the same time period.
That's unfortunately part of an ongoing trend. On Aug. 3, Ars Technica analyzed data from the CDC and found that daily COVID hospitalizations are four times higher now as BA.5 spreads across the U.S. than they were just four months ago.
Dr. Fauci just gave more "discouraging" insight into pandemic numbers.
Despite hospitalizations being on the rise, Americans have largely abandoned most mitigation efforts against COVID. And there's a lot more people could be doing. During a new interview with Los Angeles radio station KNX News 97.1, top White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, acknowledged that the vaccine and booster rates in the U.S. right now are "quite discouraging."
A majority of Americans are not up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis, 227.8 million people in the U.S., or roughly 70 percent of the population, were unvaccinated, had not completed their primary series, or had not gotten a booster dose as of July 21. The organizations said this number "has grown considerably" in just two months, with an "even greater share" of people not up-to-date on their vaccines living in areas with high community transmission.
Fauci is particularly concerned about these individuals as the U.S. heads into the fall and winter. "If they don't get vaccinated or they don't get boosted, they're going to get into trouble," he said during the Aug. 2 interview with KNX News.
Staying up-to-date on your vaccines can help prevent new COVID variants from forming.
According to Fauci, one of the major issues contributing to low vaccination rates is that many people don't believe they need additional doses right now because they're not "high-risk" for severe COVID. "People say, 'Well the risk to me is low. So why get it?'" he explained during the radio interview.
But it's not just personal safety that necessitates staying up-to-date with your COVID vaccinations. Fauci said that high immunizations rates can also help prevent new variants of the virus from emerging—including ones that could end up threatening even the populations at lower risk.
"It is about you as an individual, but it's also about the communal responsibility to get this outbreak under control," he said. "If you want to get your arms around … the outbreak, you want to get as many people in our community—and by community, I mean our nation and the world—vaccinated and boosted, so you don't give this virus such ample opportunity to really circulate."
The CDC is already tracking a new version of the virus.
The BA.5 subvariant—which has been referred to as "the worst version of the virus that we've seen" so far—just became the dominant version of COVID a little less than two months ago. Before that, the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 was dominating the country, while BA.5 was barely a blip on the radar. But turnover could potentially come just as quickly for the new dominant subvariant, as the CDC is already tracking a new "variant of concern" now, Fortune reported on Aug.4.
Data from the agency indicates that BA.4.6—which is also a subvariant of Omicron and a spinoff of the other subvariant BA.4—made up 4.1 percent of COVID cases during the last week of July. White House COVID Data Director Cyrus Shahpar, MD, tweeted on Aug. 2 that this new version of the virus has "been circulating for several weeks," despite just now being identified separately. And according to Fortune, BA.4.6 is particularly prevalent right now in the Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska area, where it is accounting for 10.7 percent of local cases.