Dr. Fauci Says Omicron Will Cause "Pain and Suffering" in These States
The top health official still remains optimistic about the future of the pandemic overall.
The COVID-19 virus has found a way to affect every corner of the U.S. at some point. But since the beginning of the pandemic, the timing with which certain places have been hit with surges in cases and hospitalizations has varied from region to region. Now, as Omicron continues to spread through new areas, chief White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, is warning that certain states could see significant "pain and suffering" in the coming weeks. Read on to see which places could soon see the worst kinds of pandemic problems.
Fauci warns states with low vaccination and booster rates could see more "pain and suffering" from Omicron.
During an interview with ABC's This Week on Jan. 23, Fauci was asked by host Martha Raddatz about the current trajectory of the pandemic and when the latest variant might peak. He explained that while he was cautiously optimistic overall, certain regions might soon be facing a serious set of issues.
"There may be a bit more pain and suffering with hospitalizations in those areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten boosters," he warned. But, he added: "We do know—[and] these are the recent data that have come out from the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC—that, even with Omicron, boosting makes a major, major difference in protecting you from hospitalization and severe outcomes."
Certain states may have already hit their Omicron peaks while others are still surging.
Fauci explained that some regions of the U.S. are already playing out similarly to other areas of the globe. "If you look at the patterns that we have seen in South Africa, in the U.K., and in Israel…in the Northeast and New England and Upper Midwest states, they have peaked and starting to come down rather sharply." However, he added, "there are still some states in the Southern states and Western states that continue to go up."
However, he also admitted that he held out hope for the near future that the Omicron surge could already be winding down in some places. "If the pattern follows the trend that we're seeing in other places, such as the Northeast, I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country," he told Raddatz. "Since it's a large country and a great deal of variation in the degree of vaccinations that we have in one region compared to another, ultimately, they're all going to go in the same direction."
Fauci is hopeful that COVID could start to be brought under control by next month.
Even though he was cautious not to call it a forecast or prediction, the top health official said that current conditions had him hopeful that the recent wave of cases could peak sometime by mid-to-late February. "What we would hope is that, as we get into the next weeks to month or so, we'll see throughout the entire country the level of infection get to below what I call that area of control," Fauci said.
He clarified that although we won't eradicate the virus, it would be brought "down to such a low level that it's essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections," which are "there but they don't disrupt society," he said. "That's the best-case scenario."
Fauci believes that the pandemic is "going in the right direction right now."
Despite the progress being made, Fauci emphasized that we should still plan for any possible developments with the virus that could create more problems. "We have got to be prepared for the worst-case scenario," he cautioned. "I'm not saying it's going to happen, but we have to be prepared, which is…that we get yet again another variant that has characteristics that would be problematic, like a high degree of transmissibility or a high degree of virulence."
Fauci was careful to clarify that given COVID's history, anything could still be possible. "You never want to be overconfident when you're dealing with this virus, Martha, because it has certainly surprised us in the past," he told Raddatz. But, he added: "Things are looking good. We don't want to get overconfident, but they look like they're going in the right direction right now."