The United States averages about 107,000 new infections every day, according to Johns Hopkins University, up from more than 150,000 last month. Hospitalization and death rates are also falling.
But Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week” that in nearly 20 months of the pandemic, the Covid outbreaks have subsided to come back again.
“The way to keep it low, to make sure that this turnaround continues to decline, is to… get people vaccinated. When you have 70 million people in the country who are eligible to be vaccinated and who are not yet vaccinated, that’s the danger zone right there, ”Fauci said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidelines for holiday celebrations, urging people to get vaccinated before the holidays and to wear masks indoors in public in public areas. high transmission areas.
“Attending gatherings to celebrate events and holidays increases your risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19. The safest way to celebrate is virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet from each other, ”he said.
CDC guidelines also recommend that people delay travel until they are fully immunized.
Nearly 56% of the total United States population, or 65.4% of those aged 12 and older, are fully vaccinated, according to data released Sunday by the CDC.
However, 15 states have yet to fully immunize more than half of their residents, according to CDC data: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Carolina of South, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Mandates spur vaccination and opposition
Mandates requiring employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 have prompted some workers to be vaccinated in recent weeks, but others who have refused vaccinations are suspended or lose their jobs.
In New York City, a vaccination mandate for educators went into effect Friday afternoon and New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter told CNN she did not expect the Mandate causes a shortage of teachers on Monday, noting that 93% of the city’s teachers are vaccinated.
“We have more vaccinated than unvaccinated subs, teachers and our superintendents have worked with our principals to develop plans to ensure our students receive the education and continue to get the education they deserve. nobody, ”Porter said.
Porter rebuffed claims by some teachers who say they are unfairly forced to vaccinate instead of being given the opportunity to test.
“We are responsible for over a million students and we have elementary school students who are not eligible for vaccination and so we must do everything in our power to wrap a bubble of protection around our children. and keep them safe, ”Porter said.
On Sunday on CBS, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, warned against the politicization of vaccines in the United States.
Gottlieb said vaccination has always been seen as a collective decision rather than just an individual choice. “That’s why we have a childhood immunization schedule, because your behavior – in regards to your choice of immunization – affects your community,” he said.
Gottlieb said there could be consequences if vaccination becomes a political issue.
“I fear that in the future we will see vaccination rates go down as it becomes more of political football, and we will see people – literally, governors fighting against vaccines and vaccination mandates – during the next presidential cycle. It’s going to be deleterious for public health, in general, if that’s what emerges from this episode we’re in, ”he said.
Promising pill should not deter vaccination
The United States surpassed 700,000 Covid-19 deaths on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and the country still averages nearly 1,900 deaths per day.
President Joe Biden marked the sad toll in a statement on Saturday and noted the impact of the vaccination, saying: “Hundreds of thousands of families have been spared the unbearable loss that too many Americans have already suffered during this pandemic. “.
As the country mulled over the death toll, Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced that they had created an antiviral pill that can reduce hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 by 50%, according to their data.
Merck has said it will seek emergency use authorization from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its drug molnupiravir “as soon as possible.” If allowed, it would become the first oral drug that fights Covid-19.
The news was greeted by health experts who also warned that it should not replace vaccinations.
“It’s never okay to be infected,” Fauci told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday.
“It reduced the risk – this pill did – of hospitalizations and death by 50%. Do you know the way to reduce the risk by 100%? Don’t get infected in the first place, ”he said.
As for those who rely on a previous infection to protect them against Covid-19, a new study published Friday in the journal The Lancet Microbe suggests that protection may be short-lived.
“Reinfection can reasonably occur in three months or less,” Jeffrey Townsend, professor of biostatistics at the Yale School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “Therefore, those who have been naturally infected should get vaccinated. A previous infection alone may offer very little long-term protection against later infections. “
Vaccines for children on the horizon
Parents hoping to vaccinate their children received good news last week, with Pfizer announcing on Tuesday that it had submitted Covid-19 vaccine data on children aged 5 to 11 to the FDA for an initial examination.
The company has yet to apply for an emergency use authorization, but on Friday the FDA announced that its vaccine advisers would meet on October 26 to discuss the data.
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is currently approved for use in persons 16 years of age and older in the United States, and has emergency use authorization for persons 12 to 15 years of age.
On Sunday, Fauci warned that while a child might be less likely to have a serious outcome from a Covid-19 case, this is not a “benign situation”.
“We now see, very clearly, if you go to pediatric hospitals, that although this risk is lower than that of adults, there are children in hospital who get seriously ill,” he said on ” State of the Union ”from CNN.
There is also a long-lasting risk of Covid, where some survivors, including children, suffer from symptoms that persist for months after becoming infected, he said.
“You want to protect your child, but you also want to make the child part of the solution, mainly so that the infection does not spread, either in your household or in the future. ‘other vulnerable people,’ Fauci said, adding that this was a ‘very positive, it’s a good thing to have their children immunized. “
CNN’s Mallory Simon contributed to this report.