Just one day after saying he expected COVID cases to fall, the nation’s top infectious disease expert now says he fears a new vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant could emerge during the fall.
In a conversation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United States is on track to see cases rise like they did in the U.K., before they decline sharply.
The country was reporting at the time its daily COVID cases fell to a five-week low after peaking around 54,000 in mid-July.
‘Since an acceleration of vaccines doesn’t give a result until several weeks after, we are already on a trajectory that looks strikingly similar to the sharp incline that the UK saw,’ he explained.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases also predicted that the U.S. would see as many as 200,000 cases a day before infections start to decline.
‘Remember, we went from an average of about 12 to 15,000 cases a day to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 – we’re up to 70 now,’ Fauci said.
‘We are going to be between 100 and 200,000 cases before this thing starts to turn around.’
But just one day later, the doctor said the situation may just get worse.
He also predicted nation is ‘in trouble’ if more Americans do not get vaccinated and predicted that daily cases could double to over 200,000 per day in the coming weeks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci (pictured) said he fears that a vaccine resistant strain of COVID-19 could form in the coming months if that nation can’t get more people vaccinated
But just one day earlier, he said that the U.S is currently on a trajectory in its recent surge of COVID-19 cases that is ‘strikingly similar’ to the outbreak seen in the UK, where cases have been declining in recent weeks
Coronavirus infections in Britain peaked at 54,000 in mid-July and have since declined to a five-week low of 21,691 recorded on Tuesday, while the U.S. has been about three to four weeks behind
While the U.S.’s vaccine rollout is beginning to tick upwards due to fears about the infectiousness of Indian ‘Delta’ variant – after months of slow progress – much of the country is still vulnerable.
‘What we’re seeing, because of this increase in transmissibility, and because we have about 93 million people in this country who are eligible to get vaccinated who don’t get vaccinated – that you have a significant pool of vulnerable people,’ Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told McClatchy.
‘And so when you look at the curve of acceleration of seven-day averages of cases per day, it is going up in a very steep fashion.’
Cases have been surging in the United States over the last month.
On Wednesday, the U.S. recorded 106,557 new cases of coronavirus with a seven-day rolling average of 90,576.
This is a 283 percent increase from the 23,613 recorded three weeks ago and the highest average since February 14, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Fauci explained that those cases could quickly accelerate.
‘Remember, just a couple of months ago, we were having about 10,000 cases a day,’ he continued.
‘I think you’re likely going to wind up somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 cases.’
Meanwhile, Britain’s daily Covid cases fell to a five-week low on Tuesday.
Figures from the Department of Health show that 21,691 virus-related infections were confirmed in the last 24 hours.
This figure is down 7.7 percent compared to last Tuesday and the lowest number of daily cases seen since late June.
Experts say warmer weather and a change in behavior is more likely to be behind the rise in cases, such as the end of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament and schools closing for summer break.
‘The rise in cases was partly attributed to the Euro football tournament and social events around watching those matches,’ Dr Stuart Ray, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told DailyMail.com in an interview last week.
Almost all recorded cases in the U.S. are among unvaccinated people.
However, over time, the virus can mutate even further so it can infect more hosts as occurred with the Delta strain.
Fauci (pictured) said that unvaccinated Americans should get the shots, not just for their own safety, but for the safety of everyone
Fauci fears the virus can become more deadly over time, and even evolve to the point where it can bypass the currently available vaccines.
‘If we don’t crush the outbreak to the point of getting the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated,’ Fauci told McClatchy.
‘Then what will happen is the virus will continue to smolder through the fall into the winter, giving it ample chance to get a variant which, quite frankly, we’re very lucky that the vaccines that we have now do very well against the variants – particularly against severe illness.
‘We’re very fortunate that that’s the case. There could be a variant that’s lingering out there that can push aside Delta.’
He warned that a new mutation could be a big problem for the U.S.
‘If another one comes along that has an equally high capability of transmitting but also is much more severe, then we could really be in trouble,’ Fauci said.
‘People who are not getting vaccinated mistakenly think it’s only about them. But it isn’t. It’s about everybody else, also.’
Fauci’s concerns over the future match the feelings many Americans have about the current COVID situation.
A recent Gallup poll found that 45 percent of Americans are now pessimistic about the future of the pandemic – a dramatic jump from three percent who said the same thing one month earlier.
More than 80 percent of Americans also believe the pandemic will last until the end of the year or longer, the poll shows.
As of Wednesday, 67.7 percent of eligible Americans – aged 12 and older- have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 58.2 percent are fully vaccinated.
Vaccine demand hit its high in early April, when more than 3.5 million shots were being distributed each day.
It dropped for weeks on end and hit a low of under 500,000 doses administered a day last month.
Since the Delta-powered surge has hit full gear, vaccine demand is beginning to trend back upwards, with about 700,000 Americans getting jabbed every day.
The CDC has noted that all authorized vaccines have shown 65% to 95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 – and more than 89% effectiveness against the coronavirus severe enough to require hospitalization.
Ben Wakana, the White House Deputy Director of Strategic Communications & Engagement who also serves on the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, ripped the outlets
However, misinformation seemed to have spread late last month when the Washington Post and The New York Times reportedly obtained internal memos from the CDC, which in part cited study analyzing the COVID infection data in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
The report concluded that 75% of people infected by the Delta variant in the town had been fully vaccinated, leading the two large newspapers to claim the Delta variant spreads as easily as the chicken pox.
The Washington Post had tweeted on Friday: ‘Vaccinated people made up three-quarters of those infected in a massive Massachusetts covid-19 outbreak, pivotal CDC study finds.’
Ben Wakana, the White House Deputy Director of Strategic Communications & Engagement who also serves on the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, immediately ripped into the tweet, calling it ‘completely irresponsible.’
‘Three days ago the CDC made clear that vaccinated individuals represent a VERY SMALL amount of transmission occurring around the country,’ Wakana tweeted.
‘Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated. Unreal to not put that in context.’
Meanwhile, The New York Times tweeted a link to their own article, citing the same memo as Washington Post.
The New York Times tweeted: ‘Breaking News: The Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and may be spread by vaccinated people as easily as the unvaccinated, an internal C.D.C. report said.’
Wakana then ripped into the Gray Lady in all-caps: ‘VACCINATED PEOPLE DO NOT TRANSMIT THE VIRUS AT THE SAME RATE AS UNVACCINATED PEOPLE AND IF YOU FAIL TO INCLUDE THAT CONTEXT YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.’
He later tweeted: ‘Let’s be clear. If 10 vaccinated people walk into a room full of COVID, about 9 of them would walk out of the room WITH NO COVID. Nine of them.’
Wakana’s criticism has been seen as a rare condemnation from the White House against the prestigious news outlets – and the sharpest criticism against them since Joe Biden took office
While some breakthrough cases are possible, the CDC has said that vaccines substantially reduce the spread of COVID-19 – even against the Delta variant.
The new study focused on an outbreak in the Cape Cod town of Provincetown, heavy tourist hotspot in Barnstable County, after the the July 4 weekend.
It found 469 cases of COVID-19 associated with multiple summer events and large public gatherings – even though 69% of Massachusetts residents were vaccinated.
Researchers said that 346 cases – or 74% – occurred in fully vaccinated people. Scientists did DNA sequencing on 133 of those patients and found that 119 of them, or 89%, had the Delta variant.
The study found that 79% of vaccinated patients with breakthrough infection were symptomatic. There were five COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized, four of whom were fully vaccinated – though no deaths were reported.
Researchers found that the Delta variant is ‘highly transmissible’ but that ‘vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death.