Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listened during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Employment and Pensions to the Senate Office of the Senate. Dirksen in Washington, DC, US, July 20, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Reuters
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that a more severe Covid variant could emerge as the new average number of U.S. cases now approaches 100,000 per day, exceeding the transmission level. last summer before vaccines were available.
Fauci, in an interview with McClatchy, said the United States could be “in trouble” if a new variant crosses the delta, which already has a viral load 1,000 times higher than the original Covid strain.
Delta has stepped up the U.S. response to the pandemic, as it has been shown to be able to infect even vaccinated people. Modern warned Thursday that advanced infections will become more common as the delta variant continues to spread.
However, vaccines still provide strong protection against serious diseases and death and the vast majority of new infections are found among people who are not vaccinated. Modern, for example, said Thursday that the booster has slowed its development by producing a robust immune response against delta.
Fauci warned in Wednesday’s interview that the United States is “very lucky” to have vaccines that have resisted the variants, suggesting that may not be the case if even more severe strains emerge.
“If another one comes that has an equally high transmission capacity, but it’s also much more severe, then we could be really in trouble,” Fauci told McClatchy in the interview, published Wednesday night. “People who aren’t vaccinated by mistake think it’s just them. But it’s not. It’s about everyone else.”
The United States reported a seven-day average of nearly 94,000 new cases as of Aug. 4, up 48 percent from a week ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On a separate measure from the average, the United States actually exceeded 100,000 new cases every day Monday and Tuesday.
Fauci predicted that the new total cases could reach “somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 cases” per day as the delta variant spreads.
A recent Covid review most severely affected unvaccinated individuals, and Fauci said it remains about 93 million eligible, unvaccinated people nationwide.
In a series of CNBC interviews conducted in July, more health officials expressed Fauci’s concerns about the emergence of a new variant. Dr. Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, said in an email that the “cycle of new variants continues to repeat itself until the virus infects people and circulates in the population, allowing to the virus of evolution. “
“It would be very surprising if Delta were the last of the line,” Morse said.
And Dr. Barbara Taylor, dean and professor of infectious diseases at UT Health San Antonio, added that future variants “that increase transmission will have the advantage” of advancing.
“As long as we have an active spread of disease anywhere in the globe, we will continue to see new variants because we give ourselves the opportunity to evolve the virus,” Taylor said in an email.
Although vaccinations are well below pandemic peaks, the United States reported an average of about 677,000 vaccinations a day in the past week since Wednesday, up 11% from a week ago, according to CDC data. . The country peaked at a reported average of 3 million shots per day in mid-April, but the rate of first doses administered has increased in recent weeks, driven by states with severe outbreaks and low vaccination rates.
President Joe Biden said in May that he wanted 70% of the population eligible for the vaccine to receive at least one dose of vaccine by the fourth of July. The United States reached its target on Monday, CDC data said, about a month late.
CNBC Nate Rattner contributed to this report.