Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, made a somewhat startling statement to Judy Woodruff on the PBS News Hour yesterday.
Fauci, who has long banged the drum of “we’re not out of this yet,” was asked by Woodruff how close we are to the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Fauci said that was “an unanswerable question.”
He stressed that the pandemic is a global phenomenon, and it is still very much ongoing in other countries. Then, he considered the United States in light of Woodruff’s query.
“We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase. Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.”
He continued, “So, if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are. What we hope to do, I don’t believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we’re not going to eradicate this virus. If we can keep that level very low, and intermittently vaccinate people — and I don’t know how often that would have to be, Judy.”
Fauci has said repeatedly his idea of winning the battle with Covid-19 would not be the complete eradication of the virus, but having it become endemic and possibly a seasonal condition controlled with vaccines.
In January 2022, Fauci broke down the logic behind the idea.
“It’s no way, I believe, likely – I mean, aspirational, but not likely – that we’re going to eliminate it because, A.) it has a high degree of transmissibility; B.) variants arise; and C.) there are so many people that are unvaccinated. And we eliminated polio because we got almost everybody vaccinated. We eliminated measles because we got almost everybody vaccinated,” he said during a “fireside chat” with the Center for Strategic & International Initiatives.
So he expected Covid to become endemic, akin to the flu.
“That might be every year, that might be longer, in order to keep that level low,” he told Woodruff yesterday. “But, right now, we are not in the pandemic phase in this country. Pandemic means a widespread, throughout the world, infection that spreads rapidly among people. So, if you look at the global situation, there’s no doubt this pandemic is still ongoing.”
You can watch a bit of the News Hour conversation below.
Cases are, in fact, on the rise in the U.S., but nowhere near catastrophic highs seen earlier in the country’s Covid battle. One wildcard corresponds with caveat B. of Dr. Fauci’s logic about ending the pandemic: A new, more infectious variant is quickly supplanting BA.2 across the country. Omicron BA.2.12.1 has, however, not yet caused a concerning rise in hospitalizations or deaths, raising hopes that Dr. Fauci’s prediction of low level endemic infection might be on the horizon.
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