Dr. Fauci Says "Be Ready" For These Things to Happen
Dr. Anthony Fauci joined ABC's This Week on March 20 to discuss the future of COVID-19 and the BA.2 variant currently causing an uptick in cases worldwide. "[It's] no time at all to declare victory because this virus has fooled us before and we really must be prepared for the possibility that we might get another variant and we don't want to be caught flatfooted on that," Dr. Fauci says. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
BA.2 Will Be Dominant Variant
"[The BA.2 variant] has a degree of transmission advantage over the original Omicron, but not a multi-fold advantage. So, it's about 50 to 60 percent or so more transmissible, which means ultimately over time, it might take over as a dominant variant. Clearly, throughout the world, it's about 80 plus percent, 85 percent of the isolate. In the United States, it's still somewhere around 30 percent. So, it does have an increased transmission capability.
BA.2 Is Not More Severe Than Past Variants
"When you look at the cases, they do not appear to be any more severe and they do not appear to evade immune responses either from vaccines or prior infection. So, the bottom line is we likely will see an uptick in cases as we've seen in European countries, particularly the U.K., where they've had the same situation as we've had now. They have BA.2. They have a relaxation of some restrictions such as indoor masking and there's a waning of immunity."
Vaccinations Could Prevent A Surge
"Hopefully, we won't see a surge. I don't think we will. The easiest way to prevent that is to continue to get people vaccinated. And for those who have been vaccinated, to continue to get them boosted. So, that's really where we stand right now… I mean we only still have about 65 percent of our population vaccinated. And of those who are eligible for a booster, only about 50 percent of them have been boosted. There are a lot of things that we can do from a public health standpoint."
Will Restrictions Be Brought Back?
"Not right now. I don't see us going back into any more really very strict kinds of restrictions. But you always have to have the flexibility. Remember, when the CDC came out with the modification of their metrics, which would lead to the guidelines of what regions or counties in the country should have a masking indoor, they made it very clear that as you pull back on restrictions, if we do see a significant surge, particularly one that might result in increased hospitalizations, we have to be prepared to pivot and perhaps reinstitution some of those restrictions."
More Government Funding Is Needed
"I hope that we get the funding from the Congress to to continue to build up our supply of antivirals, of tests and of the ability to get boosted. I mean we have a number of clinical trials going that are trying to determine what the best combination of boosting is to get both effectiveness and durability. So, we just can't stand still, particularly as we appear to be in somewhat of a lull in the cases, where cases continue to come down, deaths continue to come down and hospitalizations."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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