“So all of us who are protected against delta may not be protected against zaida (zeta),” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in a Q&A with USA Today released. Sunday.
If an overwhelming majority of the population is vaccinated, the virus will disappear in the country, Fauci said. But having only a partially vaccinated population means latent infection levels will continue into the fall, be mistaken for the flu in the winter, and resume in the spring, Fauci told USA Today.
And if the rest of the world is not vaccinated in the next two years, more circulation could mean more variants, Fauci warned.
Already, states are struggling to fend off the Delta variant, a strain considered significantly more transmissible than others. In 47 states, the seven-day average of new cases is increasing by at least 10% more than the week before, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And the United States averages over 100,000 new cases of Covid-19 every day – the highest in nearly six months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In many parts of the country, especially in the South, hospitalizations are on the rise. Louisiana set a new record for Covid-19 hospitalizations last week, hospitalizations in Florida jumped 13% from the previous peak in 2020, and a Houston hospital said Sunday morning that there were had more beds in the facility.
“In the past 12 hours we’ve lost more patients than… in the past five to six weeks,” said Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston.
And although the impacts of the pandemic worsen again, some continue to engage in activities that health experts say pose a high risk of spread, such as the 10-day motorcycle rally in Sturgis, in the United States. South Dakota, which started this weekend. Fauci told NBC’s Meet the Press that he was concerned the event could cause a rapid increase in cases.
“There comes a time when you face the public health crisis that could involve you, your family and everyone, that something is replacing what has to do what you have to do,” Fauci said. “You can do it in the future, but let’s get this pandemic under control before we start acting like nothing has happened. Something serious is happening. We have to make it happen. “
The answer to stopping or slowing the virus could be vaccination warrants, which Fauci told NBC he would support once the vaccines get full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Fauci added that while he can’t predict when a Covid-19 vaccine will receive full FDA approval, he hopes it will be “in the next few weeks.”
Experts aren’t worried about vaccine protection yet
The good news, experts say, is that data shows vaccines protect against strains the United States is currently grappling with.
Some concerns have increased with the emerging variant Lambda (C.37), first identified in Peru. But teams that are vigorously studying emerging variants do not yet have concerns about vaccines that don’t work against Delta or Lambda, Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told George Stephanopoulos on ABC on Sunday.
“We’re all worried about the day a variant comes along and the vaccines also stop working,” Collins said. “The best way to prevent this from happening is to reduce the number of infections. This is how the variants happen.
“All the more reason why we should do all we can to reduce the wild spread of Delta so that we don’t get something even more dangerous.” “
But public health officials are closely monitoring vaccine protection, Fauci told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, including how protection may wane over time.
When data shows protection drops below a certain threshold, health officials recommend boosters for the general population, Fauci said.
Pfizer said the protection of its Covid-19 vaccine appears to drop to 84% after six months. Moderna said last week that its Covid-19 vaccine had shown 93% effectiveness against symptomatic illnesses for six months, CNN previously reported.
Reminders may come too late for people with compromised immune systems
Concerns about vaccine protection are different for people who are immunocompromised, have had a transplant, or are undergoing cancer treatment.
“We know for sure that they never got an adequate response – most of them, not all, but most of them,” Fauci said. “We have to look at them in a different light from the durability of a normal person, which means that we will almost certainly strengthen these people before we strengthen the general population that has been vaccinated. ”
Research published in the JAMA Network Open estimates that 6 million people in the United States are taking immunosuppressants that could interfere with the vaccine – a number that the researchers say is likely underestimated.
The FDA is moving quickly to make a decision on recalls of Covid-19 vaccines for people with weakened immune systems, and a decision could be made before early September, a Biden administration official told CNN.
Even if the decision comes soon, it may not be soon enough for people with compromised immune systems amid the spread of the Delta variant, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner.
“Because by the time you actually make that decision… and start implementing a recall campaign, you might be talking about the end of October if the decision comes in September, that you can start boosting a number. important to people, ”Gottlieb said. told CBS on Sunday.
“It takes time for it to come up and get people into doctors’ offices to get injections. And it will take a few weeks for the immunity to mature. “
CNN’s Jessica Firger, Holly Yan, Aya Elamroussi and Lauren Mascaren contributed to this report.