“We definitely have the potential to enter a fifth wave,” Fauci told “Face the Nation” in a on the United States’ response to the pandemic which aired on Sunday. “And the fifth wave, or the magnitude of any increase, if you want to call it it turns into a wave, will really depend on what we do over the next few weeks to a few months. “
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there are 62 million Americans who are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but have not yet received their vaccines, and millions more who were immunized at least six months ago and are now seeing their immunity to the virus waning, precipitating the need for boosters.
“If we have a combination of getting as many people vaccinated as possible who haven’t been vaccinated yet, add the kids who are now eligible, the 5-11 year olds, there are 28 million, and get the many, many people now, 70% of the whole adult population have been vaccinated, about 80% have been vaccinated. If we do it successfully in a very intensive way, we can mitigate any increase, ”he said.
The country is currently experiencing an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, up from around 70,000 per day. But Fauci said rising rates of Americans vaccinated and stimulated could stem the effects of another wave of the pandemic.
“If we now do what I’m talking about intensely, maybe we can mitigate that,” he said. “If we don’t do it successfully, it’s certainly conceivable and maybe likely that we’ll see another push. The severity of the situation is up to us and how we alleviate it. “
Fauci’s comments came before the world begana new variant of coronavirus discovered in South Africa, named Omicron by the World Health Organization and labeled a variant of concern because of its high number of mutations. Concerns over the latest strain and its transmissibility have prompted several countries, , to restrict travel from southern Africa. No case of the Omicron variant has been identified in the United States to date, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Announcing the travel restrictions of eight countries in the region, which begin on Monday, President Biden said in a statement Friday that the emergence of the Omicron variant underscores the need for vaccinated Americans to get their boosters and Americans not. vaccinated to get vaccinated.
Still, Fauci said those who are vaccinated see their immunity to the virus wane over time, which adds a degree of uncertainty in determining the level of vaccination needed to achieve herd immunity.
“If you get someone vaccinated and they go down and down below a certain level, I don’t know if you can count them as a fully protected person, that’s why it’s a combination not only to vaccinate the entire population as a primary, but also to stimulate people, ”he said.
So far, Americans aged 5 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, although Fauci said he believes children under 5 will be able to get vaccinated in the first quarter of 2022 because studies are currently underway on children from 2 to 5 years old, and then 6 months to 2 years old.
“Now it may take longer because the younger you are, the more obviously the children are vulnerable,” he said. “You have to be very careful, especially when it comes to security. I don’t think there will be an efficiency problem. There is no reason to believe that it will not be effective and ultimately effective in children. But when you are dealing with children, this is a very sensitive area. “
As the Biden administration continues to work to increase vaccination rates and keep another wave of the pandemic at bay, Fauci has suggested that COVID-19 is unlikely to be completely wiped out.
“I don’t think we’re going to eradicate it. We have eradicated only one infection from mankind, and that is smallpox, ”he said, adding that“ when you have these moving parts, the best way to get where you want is just. to say that we are going to vaccinate as many people as possible, that we are going to boost as many people as possible and that we are going to lower that level. And I think it’s gonna have to be as low as under 10,000. “
Looking to the future and when the pandemic is under control, he said masks may become more of a staple in the United States
“I think people are going to find that one of the things that has been noticed, very clearly now, is that when you were wearing a mask, when everyone finally realized that it was important to wear a mask. mask, this flu was sort of off the map, ”Fauci said, noting that analysis shows masks work outside of the hospital setting.
In the United States, more than 776,000 people have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, and there have been more than 48.2 million confirmed cases. Fauci said that with this number of deaths, he would be “stunned” if it weren’t for “a very serious examination of what went well, what went wrong, from the point of view of public health perspective, local perspective, global perspective ”.
“I don’t think the public should imagine this is going to happen with already 760,000 Americans dying and at least 40 million at least infected, nearly 6 million people are dying around the world, and we’re not going to go back on that. this and tear it up, examine it, do an autopsy on it and try to figure it out, ”he said. “So people shouldn’t think that this isn’t going to happen. It’s not happening now because everyone is focused on mastering this thing. “
Fauci also lamented that in rethinking how the United States responded to the pandemic, politicizing the pandemic was a costly mistake.
“The division in this country for me is the biggest mistake that replaces everything we talk about, replaces the mask situation, replaces everything, has a public health disaster and you have a division that walks away from doing the right thing. to get the epidemic under control, ”he said. “I mean, when we look back and look back and we said we have this devastating plague that is killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, and we have public health principles that are decided based on of a political ideology. “