Dr. Fauci Just Warned All Americans "Need to Be Prepared" for This
The infectious disease expert wants us ready for the next phase of the pandemic.
The Omicron surge that occurred over the past few months was the worst spike in COVID infections the U.S has seen in the last two years. Thankfully, numbers have been steadily falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases were down by more than 5 percent in the last week, while hospitalizations also declined by 21 percent. But as a subvariant of Omicron gains its footing across the world, experts worry that the downward trajectory might not continue. Read on to find out what one of the top virus experts in the U.S. just warned Americans to prepare for.
Dr. Fauci said Americans need to prepare for restrictions to be reinstated.
During a March 27 interview on BBC's Sunday Morning, White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, discussed the current COVID situation and what might change in the coming weeks. According to the infectious disease expert, Americans "need to be prepared for the possibility" of restrictions being put back into place as new variants could potentially emerge and reverse positive trends with the pandemic.
"I don't want to use the word 'lockdown' as that has a charged element to it, but I believe that we must keep our eye on the pattern of what we're seeing with infections right now," he said. "We need to be prepared for the possibility that we would have another variant that would come along and then things change."
Fauci added, "If we do get a variant that does give us an uptick in cases and hospitalization, we should be prepared and flexible enough to pivot towards going back—at least temporarily—to a more rigid type of restrictions, such as requiring masks indoors."
He said there is expected be a rise in cases in the U.S. in the near future.
As the CDC reports, the U.S. is still experiencing a decline in infections despite numbers rising in other countries, particularly in Europe. According to The New York Times, in the last two weeks, cases went up by 45 percent in the U.K., 3 percent in Spain, and 95 percent in France.
"We certainly will be seeing increase in cases. What's going on in Europe and the U.K. has not yet hit the United States. We still are having the decrement of cases, of hospitalizations, and deaths," Fauci explained, adding that the U.S. is already seeing a "little bit less sharp decline" in COVID numbers than we had experienced just a week or two ago. Cases were down by more than 16 percent the week prior in the U.S. and now they're only down by 5 percent, per the CDC.
Fauci said relaxed restrictions are playing a part in rising cases.
According to Fauci, virus experts expect that infections will start rising in the U.S. because the "same conditions which appear to be driving the resurgence of Omicron" in terms of the BA.2 subvariant in Europe are also happening here. One of those conditions is the removal of restrictions that were put in place to combat the COVID pandemic.
It's "a combination of three things," he explained. "It's the greater transmissibility of BA.2; it's the relaxation of restrictions, particularly in the context of indoor masking in congregate settings; and also the fact that immunity, due to both vaccination as well as people who have been previously infected, tends to wane with SARS-CoV-2—particularly with Omicron."
But he said it is hard to predict what the overall future of COVID will look like.
Over the last two years, we have seen numerous waves of COVID. Recently, Fauci said that he doesn't expect another major surge in the coming weeks, even with the potential for an increase in infections during the spring and summer. "I would not be surprised at all, if we do see somewhat of an uptick. I don't really see, unless something changes dramatically, that there would be a major surge," he said during a March 22 Washington Post Live event.
Most often, variants will cause a surge in cases during the winter because people are more likely to congregate indoors where the virus can spread more easily. Looking toward next winter, Fauci said it is hard to know right now whether or not the U.S. will see another variant surge similar to Omicron's.
"I think it's really unpredictable. This virus has fooled us so often. We really don't know and I think anyone who says they're going to predict with any certainty what's going to happen in the winter I think, is a bit of a stretch," he told the BBC.