Dr. Fauci Warns It's "Very Clear" Vaccinated People Need to Do This Now
The infectious disease expert said there is still much unknown about the future of the pandemic.
More than two years into the pandemic, there is plenty to celebrate but just as many ongoing concerns. In the last week alone, infections have increased by more than 21 percent and hospitalizations have gone up by over 16 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Just a month ago, the numbers were consistently and substantially dropping—and the about-face since then has been a stark reminder that the path forward is likely to be less linear than many of us had hoped for. Even though top White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, recently declared that the U.S. is out of the full-blown pandemic phase, he has also warned that the country could very much see another major COVID surge in the not-too-distant future.
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During a House Appropriations Committee hearing on May 11 for the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) proposed budget, Fauci, who also serves as the director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was again asked about the future of the COVID pandemic, particularly in regards to coronavirus vaccinations. According to the infectious disease expert, much is still unknown about how many vaccines will be needed as time passes, but the answer should become clearer soon.
"I think some time in the middle of the summer, we're gonna know what the cadence is gonna be about how often we're gonna have to vaccinate people," Fauci said during the meeting.
In the meantime, Fauci reiterated that there's one thing we know with absolute certainty: At least one booster is already necessary for vaccinated people. "In the era of Omicron, it's very clear that a booster is needed," he said.
According to a Jan. 2022 report from the CDC, a third COVID vaccine doses was "highly effective" at preventing severe COVID during Omicron's reign, having an 82 percent effectiveness against emergency department and urgent care visits and a 90 percent effectiveness against COVID-related hospitalizations.
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"It's very clear right now … if you look at the hospitalizations and deaths of those who are unvaccinated compared to those who are vaccinated and boosted, the data are stunning," Fauci added. "They're striking, the difference."
But the effectiveness of one booster shot does start waning rather quickly, the infectious disease expert noted. According to the CDC, vaccine effectiveness of the third dose against hospitalization was around 90 percent for the first two months but fell to 78 percent by the fourth month.
"You then get an increased risk—particularly among the elderly and among those with underlying conditions—of hospitalizations and death," Fauci explained, which is why the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized a second booster for people above the age of 50 who are at least four months out from their third mRNA shot.
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