Dr. Fauci Just Said That He's Worried About COVID in These 2 States
The chief White House COVID adviser says new variants in both places are concerning.
The spread of highly transmissible COVID-19 variants across the U.S. has put yet another hurdle in the way of ending the pandemic. And as health experts continue to express concerns that vaccines may not be as effective against some of these newly discovered strains, some are worried that certain areas could see new outbreaks. This includes chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, who has said he's worried about COVID developments in California and New York. Read on to see why he's so concerned about these places, and for more on what else might be next in the pandemic, check out This Is When We Can Expect the Next COVID Surge, Experts Say.
Fauci explains new variants could be why national cases have stopped decreasing.
During an interview on CBS's Face the Nation on Feb. 28, Fauci was asked about his concerns over the recent change in the trajectory of new COVID cases, after a weeks-long national decline was snapped last week. "It certainly could be that because we do have some worrisome variants in California and in New York," he explained.
He went on to call the sharp drop in cases over the past several weeks "encouraging," but that "over the last several days, it's kind of stopped at around 70,000 and lingered there for a day or two. That is concerning because the thing we don't want is to have it plateau at 70,000 per day. That's exactly the thing that happened during previous surges," he warned. However, more recently, daily new COVID cases have come down once more to 50,000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. And for more advice from Fauci, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said When You Can See Other People After Being Vaccinated.
Experts have warned about vaccines' effectiveness against the New York variant.
Fauci previously expressed concern over the New York variant—officially known as B.1.526— during an appearance on CNN on Feb. 25. He warned host Chris Cuomo that the newly discovered strain had "some worrisome mutations in it" and that "it's something you've really got to pay attention to."
But he wasn't alone in his concerns over the new variant. Appearing after Fauci on Face the Nation, Scott Gottlieb, MD, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, echoed the warnings. "We're more worried about the New York strain because it may pierce prior immunity, and vaccines may be less effective against that," he said, before clarifying that the information was "still very speculative." And for more on potential upcoming guideline changes, check out The CDC Is About to Relax These COVID Restrictions, Dr. Fauci Says.
The mixing of new variants could create a big problem for California.
While California may finally be seeing cases drop after a devastating surge that made it the epicenter of the pandemic for a time, Fauci is still concerned that other issues could lie ahead. In a Feb. 23 interview with The Los Angeles Times, he warned that the U.K. variant—which has been reported in the state—could create a "survival-of-the-fittest contest" with other local California variants, allowing whichever strain is better at eluding vaccines to continue to spread. And for more COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Fauci still believes vaccinations can help stop the spread of new variants.
But the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden remains optimistic that the challenges presented by the new variants don't mean we should give up hope. "We don't know if [the vaccines] work directly against it, but that's the point you want to get across to people. Even though this vaccine is not directly matched to a variant that might occur … [with] the higher level of protection against the original one, there's a spillover of protection against the variant," Fauci told Cuomo.
"Keep doing the public health measures and get as many people vaccinated as you possibly can," he went on to advise. "Everything you throw at us about a mutant is going to be countered by getting people vaccinated." And for more on when we may be able to put the coronavirus behind us, check out This Is When the COVID Pandemic Will Be Completely Over, Experts Say.