Dr. Fauci Warns These 2 Things Will Cause "Even More" Breakthrough Cases
The infectious disease expert is giving this warning to fully vaccinated people.
Slowing vaccination rates and the fast-spreading Delta variant resulted in a significant COVID surge throughout the U.S. this past summer. And despite the momentary feeling of relief that arrived as numbers finally dropped, we're now seeing an uptick once again. COVID cases are back on the rise, increasing by 18 percent overall in the last two weeks, according to The New York Times. Health officials have repeatedly touted the importance of vaccines and warned that unvaccinated people are the most at risk for getting infected with this potentially deadly virus. But rising COVID cases don't just affect unvaccinated people.
During a pre-recorded interview that aired at the 2021 STAT Summit on Nov. 16, White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, warned that there could be a "double whammy" this winter that is likely to affect even people who are vaccinated, ABC News reported.
"You're going to see breakthrough infections, even more so than we see now among the vaccinated," he said during the interview. According to Fauci, both waning immunity from the vaccines and the highly transmissible Delta variant—which is still circulating and making up almost all COVID infections—could result in more fully vaccinated people getting COVID.
"The somewhat unnerving aspect of it is that if you keep the level of dynamics of the virus in the community at a high level—obviously the people who are most most vulnerable are the unvaccinated—but when you have a virus as transmissible as Delta, in the context of waning immunity, that dynamic is going to negatively impact even the vaccinated people," Fauci said.
According to ABC News, the national average for new daily COVID cases has recently surged to more than 80,000, which is the highest it has been in about a month. There are 40 states with high COVID transmission right now. Fauci said to fight these increased levels of spread, more people need to get vaccinated or boosted.
Only 58.9 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This leaves about 60 million people unvaccinated, Fauci said. But according to the White House COVID adviser, persuading these people to get vaccinated is not the only important next step. So is "how well we implement a booster program," he said.
"I happen to believe as an immunologist and infectious disease person, that a third shot boost for an mRNA … should be part of the actual standard regimen, where a booster isn't a luxury; a booster isn't an add on," Fauci said. "So that when we look back on this, we're going to see that boosters are essential for an optimal vaccine regimen."
According to Fauci, breakthrough infections among those not boosted are already leading to serious consequences. "What we're starting to see now is an uptick in hospitalizations among people who've been vaccinated, but not boosted," Fauci said during a separate interview with NBC News on Nov. 17.
Several studies from Israel—which is further along in its booster regimen than the U.S.—show that booster shots have a significant impact for protection against infection and severe disease, Fauci told the news outlet. An Oct. 7 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that there was a 20-fold reduction in severe COVID cases among those over the age of 60 who got a booster. Other Israeli researchers also found that booster doses were 92 percent effective overall at preventing severe disease when compared to those who had just received the standard two doses at least five months prior, publishing these results in a Lancet study Oct. 20.
"That's where we get back to the importance of getting a boost," Fauci told NBC News. "It will dramatically diminish the likelihood that if you do get infected with a breakthrough infection that you'll wind up in the hospital."