Dr. Fauci Just Issued This Serious Warning About the India Variant
The top infectious disease expert is growing concerned about the highly contagious mutation.
As Americans have continued to watch COVID-19 case numbers drop nationally for weeks, many are finally feeling encouraged that the true end of the pandemic is in sight. Now, as local officials can safely drop public health measures in many areas, people are beginning to return to normal life for the first time in over a year. But despite the major progress that's been made, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief White House COVID adviser, issued a warning that the highly contagious India variant is gaining ground in the U.S. and could pose a serious problem in the coming weeks.
During a press briefing held by the White House COVID-19 task force on June 8, Fauci reported that six percent of sequenced cases in the U.S. are now caused by the B.1.617 variant, which was first discovered in India and is also known as the Delta variant. He explained that the mutation is "essentially taking over" the U.K. with transmissibility that "appears to be greater" than the B.11.7 variant that was previously responsible for devastating outbreaks there.
"We cannot let that happen in the United States," Fauci warned. He also noted that the India variant appeared to be "associated with increased disease severity" compared to the original wild type of the virus that was dominant at the beginning of the pandemic.
Fauci also outlined data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that had found the Pfizer vaccine to be 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease caused by the variant two weeks after the second dose had been administered. However, the vaccine only offers 33 percent protection after just one dose.
He urged anyone who had not returned for their second scheduled shot to do so. "And for those who have not been vaccinated yet, please get vaccinated. This is the national month of action," he added.
In a tweet later the same day, President Joe Biden echoed Fauci's warning about the variant's spread and how it's mostly affecting the young population between the ages of 12 and 20 in the U.K. "If you're young and haven't gotten your shot yet, it really is time. It's the best way to protect yourself and those you love," he wrote.