Dr. Fauci Just Said These 2 Things Could Stop Another COVID Surge
The top infectious disease expert says we can avoid a spike in cases, but "we have to act quickly."
The U.S. is still seeing newly reported COVID cases drop weeks after figures reached their all-time high in early January. But experts are now warning that getting complacent could be a disastrous mistake, cautioning that the virus could surge again as highly contagious variants continue to spread, particularly one from the U.K. Fortunately, according to White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, there's still a chance that we can stop another COVID surge from happening. Read on to see how he thinks we could keep the virus from roaring back, and for more on when some think the worst will arrive, check out This Is Exactly When We'll See the Next COVID Surge, Experts Warn.
Fauci says following basic health guidelines will slow the spread of any new variants.
During an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Feb. 17, Fauci discussed the danger of the more transmissible U.K. COVID variant that's now spreading quickly throughout the U.S. The top infectious disease expert said that we have two highly effective tools to stop the mutated version of the virus from causing a surge. "One [is] to continue to do the kinds of public health interventions that we talk about all the time," he said.
The basic guidelines he recommends still include getting as many people to wear face masks as possible, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, practicing social distancing, and making sure to wash your hands. "You do that, you're good against the wild-type virus, you're good against the mutant virus," he said. And for the latest masking advice, check out The CDC Just Issued a Warning About This Kind of Face Mask.
Higher vaccination rates will also help stop another potential surge.
On top of the same guidelines that have helped keep COVID at bay since the beginning of the pandemic, Fauci added that vaccinations will also stop the U.K. strain from climbing to dangerous levels. "If we roll out the vaccine … and get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can while we maintain the public health measures, we should be in good stead," Fauci said.
Fauci added that the highly contagious nature of the U.K. variant means "it's not going to be easy" and that "we have to act quickly." And for more vaccine news that could affect you, check out Don't Do This Until a Month After Your COVID Vaccine, Experts Warn.
Fauci vouched for the effectiveness of the vaccines against multiple variants.
Fauci's recommendations come shortly after warnings that the U.K. strain—officially known as the B.1.1.7 variant—is doubling within the U.S. every 10 days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this would likely make the highly contagious variant the dominant strain nationwide by March.
Fortunately, Fauci pointed out that the two strains that have concerned health officials the most could still be stopped by the vaccine. "We know that the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, the antibodies they induce do quite well against B.1.1.7.," he said. Fauci added that getting vaccinated also "protects very well against severe disease" in the case of South African variant, officially known as B.1.351. And for the latest COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Recent studies have also given Fauci hope on another way vaccines will help.
Beyond keeping those who are vaccinated from becoming severely ill, Fauci has also found a reason to believe that immunizations might be able to actively keep the virus from spreading. During a White House COVID response team briefing on Feb. 17, Fauci cited a recent study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, that suggests that people vaccinated in Israel have significantly reduced viral loads compared to those who were not inoculated. As those with low viral loads have a lower risk of transmitting the virus, being vaccinated might actually quell outbreak.
"The lower the viral load, the less likelihood of transmissibility; the higher the viral load, the higher the likelihood of transmissibility," Fauci explained. And for the latest pandemic prediction, find out When the COVID Pandemic Will Be Completely Over, Experts Say.