dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top adviser on the pandemic, predicted on Sunday an “increase” in coronavirus infections similar to the current increase in Europe, despite the current decline in the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States.
It’s “no time at all to declare victory because this virus has fooled us before and we really need to be prepared for the possibility of getting another variant,” said Dr. Fauci on ABC’s “This Week”. “And we don’t want to be caught with flat feet on that.”
Anticipating another surge, Dr. Fauci that he does not expect an increase at this time. Still, the BA.2 subvariant has been shown to be a more contagious version of the Omicron variant, although it also causes less severe disease in most people.
Epidemiologists have said the current lull in US cases reflects the dip Europe went through before many officials in the region eased restrictions like indoor masking.
Even as US cases continue to drop to levels reminiscent of last summer, BA.2 variants make up a larger proportion of them. That share ranges from about 20 percent in the Midwest to 39 percent in New York and New Jersey, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the number of cases remains low, said Dr. Fauci said he doesn’t currently see the nation ramping up the restrictions, “but you always have to have the flexibility.” He also warned that restrictions could come into play again if the number of hospital admissions starts to rise.
About 65 percent of Americans are vaccinated, Dr. Fauci, and about half of the people who qualify for a booster have received the injection. He said it remains critical for Congress to continue funding the tests, treatments and booster injections that may be more needed in the near future.
Federal officials have already said a stalled aid package for coronavirus countermeasures means shipments of monoclonal antibodies to states will slow by about 30 percent this week and orders for more antiviral pills will be suspended.
dr. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, echoed Dr. Fauci’s call for congressional funding for those antiviral treatments and antibody infusions so that they are available in greater quantities if needed.
He declined to predict an immediate rise in an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” saying that cases in Europe tend to predict those in the United States, and Americans can expect rises and falls. He urged the nation to focus on “preparation, not panic.”
“We’re in that mile 18 of a marathon,” said Dr. murthy. “We can’t stop because Covid won’t stop.”