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Dr. Fauci Just Issued This "Formidable" Warning

The virus expert called COVID a “cunning foe.”
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The coronavirus surge is at a "turning point"—the question is, which way will it turn? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, sat down with the Atlantic staff writer Ed Yong to discuss how you can stay safe given the Delta variant. Read on for five essential pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Dr. Fauci Warned Delta is "Cunning"

Doctor in protective clothing in hospital intensive care unit prepares Covid-19 patient for infusion during coronavirus pandemic

Fauci called Delta a "cunning foe" but said on Israel's Army Radio that "we have within our grasp the capability of ending this if we get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated." He continued: "I see the end of it if we all pull together and recognize that the enemy is the virus and not each other. We are all in this together," he said. "It is unacceptable that in a country such as ours that we still have 70 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten vaccinated," he said.

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Dr. Fauci Said We Have to "Do Better"

Woman with face mask getting vaccinated, coronavirus, covid-19 and vaccination concept.

To the Atlantic's Ed Yong, Fauci said: "We don't have 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated. We have about 55 percent of the total population fully vaccinated. We still need to go a ways. We.. have about 70 million people in this country who still are not vaccinated. That is particularly problematic when you do that in the context of a Delta variant, which is really substantially more transmissible… So again, we always can do better. …I think what we have is a formidable virus, which we've realized right from the very beginning. And these kinds of surges that we're seeing regarding Delta are not isolated to the United States. I mean, the entire world virtually has been hit by this."

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Dr. Fauci Said Here's What to Do to Address the Situation

Check-in for coronavirus vaccination against Covid-19 with doctor in the background.

"So now that we are in this situation, how do we address it?" said Fauci. "We do know that the vaccines do work really quite well against Delta. There are breakthrough infections … but that's because no vaccine is 100 percent effective. We'll have to see about the durability of that protection. But what they've done quite well thus far is to prevent people from getting to the hospital and ultimately dying. Because if you look, even with the breakthrough infections, which naturally will occur when you don't have 100 percent effective vaccine, that the deaths overwhelmingly are among people who are unvaccinated. So bottom line, at least for this part of the conversation, is that we have within our grasp, within our power, the ability to have a major impact on what we're seeing now. With the numbers of infections, we've been well over 100,000 infections for quite a while now, and hospitalizations were up and deaths were up. Right now, it looks like we're turning the corner a bit with a diminution in the number of cases and a diminution in the number of hospitalizations. Deaths are still going up, but that's usually a lagging indicator of what's going on in the community."

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Dr. Fauci Said This About Masks

Woman wearing a face mask working on a laptop in cafe

"Masking," said Fauci, has been a "very complicated issue" The CDC said over the summer indoors masks weren't needed, and then changed their advice. "And in fairness to them, they quickly went back when we saw that Delta was a really quite a formidable foe here. If you want to make it a metaphor, it is a foe when we're at war with it, that in fact we do still need to have masks. Even if you're vaccinated when you are an indoor congregated setting in which you're in a location where there's a lot of dynamics of spread. And quite frankly, as we got into the summer, that essentially, with very few exceptions, became the entire country. When you look at the orange and red on the map, you know, it essentially became an orange and then an almost totally red map. So surely masking it would have been … preferable had that been done earlier."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek