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Dr. Fauci Just Predicted What Will Happen Next

Here’s what Dr. Fauci wants you to be prepared for. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that a surge in COVID-19 cases is likely toward the end of the year, and the U.S. will run out of tests, monoclonal antibodies, and antiviral drugs if government funding is not provided. In an interview with David Westin at Bloomberg, Dr. Fauci explains what he thinks will happen next for the virus and for subvariants such as BA.2. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Yes, We Have Some Immunity Against BA.2

Woman wearing face mask looking at camera showing thumbs up after getting the covid-19 vaccine.

"When you combine the immunity that many people have following infection with the immunity that people who have been vaccinated and hopefully boosted have, there's a significant amount of background immunity," says Dr. Fauci.


…But Uptick Could Still Happen

Infected patient in quarantine lying in bed in hospital

"However, we know that the Omicron BA.2 is a highly transmissible virus," says Dr. Fauci. "BA.2 has a transmission advantage over BA.1. Now, if you look at what happens in other countries [where] we usually follow their pattern—take the U.K. for an example. They have BA.2, and what they've done is two other things: They have this virus that we have in our country (about 75% of our isolates are BA.2), they've had a pullback on many of the mask mandates and restrictions that they've had for indoor settings, as well as a waning of immunity. Those conditions are also present in the United States. So I would not be surprised if we see an uptick in cases—whether that uptick becomes a surge with a lot more cases is difficult to predict."


Get Vaccinated To Prevent Hospitalizations

Doctors and infected patient in quarantine in hospita.

"I think we should expect that over the next couple of weeks we are gonna see an uptick in cases, and hopefully there's enough background immunity so that we don't wind up with a lot of hospitalizations," says Dr. Fauci. "The best way to avoid that, as we always said, is to get more people vaccinated. And if you're vaccinated, then wind up making sure you get boosted when your time comes up."


Immunity Wanes Over Time

woman coughing into elbow while lying down on sofa in the living room.

"If you do zero surveys and look at the people who have either been vaccinated or who have been infected, and have what's called an indication of immunity (which can be easily measured by looking at the antibody response) you're talking about a very, very high percentage of the population—perhaps even as high as 90%," says Dr. Fauci. "However, one of the things that people need to realize is that immunity wanes. So it isn't like measles. If you measure someone and take a look at their immunity to measles that lasts a lifetime, the immunity to COVID and SARS-CoV-2 is something that wanes over a period of months. So that's the wild card in this, is to be able to predict accurately what level of immunity over time will prevent us from winding up getting either a large surge or a surge associated with hospitalizations." 


What About the Fourth Shot?

Woman in medical face mask getting Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital

"Right now, I think with three shots and infection, David, it is very unlikely that you'll need a booster for the immediate future," Dr. Fauci tells Westin. "I wouldn't run out and get your fourth dose right now, having been infected. What you might have to do—and this is what the FDA's advisory committee that's meeting now is looking at—is what about the projection, the strategic projection, as we get into the fall for all of us who will have waning immunity? I have not been infected, but I've been vaccinated and boosted. And certainly over a period of months, it is very likely that my immune protection will diminish to the point of needing yet again, another booster."


Should We Expect a Surge In the Fall?

Officer use infrared forehead thermometer to check fever body temperature for virus symptoms

"I think it is likely that we will see a surge in the fall. Again, when we talk about these things, these are uncharted waters for us with this virus," Dr. Fauci says. "If one talks about flu or other infections in which you have decades and decades of experience, you can predict with some degree of accuracy what you might see. I would think that we should expect that we are going to see some increase in cases as you get to the colder weather in the fall. And that's the reason why the FDA and their advisory committee are meeting right now to plan a strategy. And we at the NIH are doing studies now to determine what the best boost would be. Should it be an Omicron boost or should it be a boost of the original ancestral strain? We don't know. We're gonna find out by the studies that we're doing."


What About At-Home Tests For COVID?

Man self tests for COVID-19 home test kit.

"Something that I think we need to seriously consider as more and more at-home 15 minute tests become available: What are you going to miss?" warns Dr. Fauci. "There are people who get infected and are either without symptoms or have mild symptoms. So they don't come to the attention of a healthcare provider, or they don't wind up getting a PCR because when you get a PCR and it's positive, that gets reported, whereas your home test, you have no reason or even mechanism of reporting it unless you go through the healthcare system. So we are probably underestimating  the number of infections that we're having right now, because many of the infections are either without symptoms or minimally symptomatic. And you'll miss that, if people do it at home and it's not reported to a central bank."


What Does the Future Hold For the CDC?

People in protective suits and masks delivering vaccine of coronavirus.

"I think what Dr. Walensky (the CDC director) is doing is very important, and I'm very much in favor of that, is to take an almost diagnostic look over the next month at the kinds of things that they feel that they can do better. One of the things that we are all aware of—and Dr. Walensky certainly is aware—is that the way the system is set up now, which is partly due to our own healthcare system, where we don't have a unified system, where you can't get data in real time. When you're dealing with an evolving outbreak and you need to make real time and real world decisions, you need to know data that is one day, one week old—not data that's three months old. And the older systems that we had did not allow us to get data in real time. We're getting better at it, and the CDC has already instituted mechanisms of being able to get data in a much more expeditious manner, but we still need to do much better. And that's one of the things that they're talking about when they're looking at how they can make it a better organization."

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Not Getting More Funding Will Be Disastrous

Doctor holding Pfizer Biontech vaccine against coronavirus COVID disease

"It's absolutely critical that we get that money for a number of reasons," says Dr. Fauci. "So you could work from the bottom up—you know, 5 billion was taken out of the 15 to get vaccines to people in the developed world, and to be able to get those vaccinations into people's arms. That is important because if we don't do that, and you have a lot of viral dynamics in other parts of the world, that leads to the likelihood that you're gonna see another variant. That's the first thing. The second thing: We in the next few months will run out of tests, run out of monoclonal antibodies, run out of antiviral drugs, as well as the important work that needs to be done to do studies, to determine what the best booster should be. Should it be a combination of a hybrid of different boosts? Should it be an Omicron boost? Should it be a boost of another variant like Beta? We don't know that. And we can't do those studies unless we get the money, because we will run out in a very reasonably short period of time."

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We Won't Have Enough Antivirals For Everyone

Nurse holding syringe

"[Antiviral drugs] are very important, particularly when you have a virus that is so highly transmissible that even people who have been vaccinated will get infected," says Dr. Fauci. "Now, most healthy people who have been vaccinated might get infected, but they'll get minimal or no symptoms. But people who have underlying conditions, particularly the elderly whose immune status often is compromised merely on the basis of their age, as well as people with underlying conditions who if they do get infected, are at a higher risk of a serious complication. We absolutely need antiviral drugs for those people, and it has to be given within the first few days of the infection or at least a recognition of the infection… Antivirals are extremely important. If we don't get additional money, we're not going to be able in the long range to have enough antivirals to give to people."

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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.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan