Fauci Says Lockdowns Unlikely in US, Warns ‘Things Will Get Worse’ Due to Outbreak Driven by 'Delta'
The Delta variant of COVID-19 has been fuelling a new wave of infections worldwide, with disease experts warning that it is "likely more severe" than earlier versions, according to an internal report by The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report made public on Friday.
As the average nationwide number of new COVID-19
cases per day jumped 55 percent over the last two weeks across the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci came out with a grim prediction that "things will get worse" on Sunday.
The nation's top infectious disease expert, interviewed by ABC's "This Week," made the case for boosted vaccination efforts as the Delta version of the disease is believed to be now comprising over 80 percent of the coronavirus cases in the country.
“If you look at the acceleration of the number of cases, the seven-day average has gone up substantially. You know what we really need to do, Jon, we say it over and over again and it's the truth - we have 100 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not getting vaccinated. We are seeing an outbreak of the unvaccinated," he said.
The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases went on to say that lockdowns were unlikely, however, emphasizing:
“I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country - not enough to crush the outbreak - but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter. But things are going to get worse."
Cases have been surging across the US since around late June, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Echoing the main message of a CDC report, which noted that "vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death," Fauci said:
"From the standpoint of illness, hospitalisation, suffering and death, the unvaccinated are much more vulnerable because the vaccinated are protected from severe illness, for the most part, but when you look at the country as a whole. And getting us back to normal, the unvaccinated, by not being vaccinated, are allowing the propagation and the spread of the outbreak which ultimately impacts everybody."
Challenges of Delta Variant
Concerns were triggered earlier as research into the outbreak of the coronavirus virus in Provincetown, Massachusetts, suggested the Delta variant may be able to spread among fully vaccinated people. Studies showed the amount of virus in the noses of vaccinated people who had been subjected to a breakthrough infection was the same as in individuals who had not received jabs.
This prompted the CDC to bring mask guidelines
back for vaccinated individuals in some areas.
"You want them to wear a mask, so that if in fact they do get infected, they don't spread it to vulnerable people, perhaps in their own household, children or people with underlying conditions," said Fauci, commenting the new guidance for the vaccinated.
When asked about the stance of some Republican governors, such as Arizona's Doug Ducey, and Florida's Ron DeSantis, who argue that people shouldbe allowed to make their own decisions about wearing masks and being administered vaccines, Fauci said:
"I respectfully disagree with them… The fact is, there are things that are individual responsibilities that one has. And there are things that have to do with you individually, which also impact others and get the spread of infection that we're seeing now -- the surge in cases is impacting everyone in the country."
This comes as an internal report
by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made public on Friday warned that Delta, first identified in India, is "likely more severe" than earlier versions of the virus.
Studies carried out in three countries, Canada, Singapore and Scotland, which are yet to be reviewed by outside experts, suggested individuals infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be in hospital than patients suffering from earlier manifestations of the respiratory disease.
According to the CDC report, Delta is as contagious
as chickenpox and more contagious than the common cold or flu.
Despite the fact that a majority of hospitalisations and deaths from coronavirus in the United States are occurring in those who have not been vaccinated, efficacy of jabs is believed to dwindle in the elderly and those with impaired immune systems.
While data suggests fully vaccinated
healthy individuals may experience asymptomatic or mild cases of the disease, Dr. Gregory Poland, infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic, emphasised they might pass it on to others.
“We have to be vaccinated and masked or we will, for the fourth time now, endure another surge and out of that will come worse variants," the health expert was cited by Reuters as saying.