Despite a steep increase in new cases of COVID-19 in the United States, the country's top infectious disease expert warned on Wednesday that a transition to living without tight pandemic safeguards might begin in "months."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, spoke of living with a virus "that will not be eradicated and very likely would not be eliminated, but can actually be at such a lower level of control, namely, a control that does not disrupt society, does not disrupt the economy," citing studies of the increasingly dominant Omicron variant that suggest it is less threatening than previous ones.
Fauci suggests to explore vaccination mandate for domestic travel
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, made his statements as confirmed cases in the United States reached a weekly average of more than 240,000 each day, up 60% from the previous week.
The spike is being fueled by the development of Omicron in the last month, as well as the continued infection of the Delta variant. The rapid rise has caused widespread uncertainty about how tight Americans must be in attempting to manage the pandemic's newest phase, which is already in its third year, SCMP reported.
Even as cases began to rise last week, Biden and public health officials avoided calling for lockdowns ahead of the Christmas holiday; on Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended cutting the length of isolation and quarantine for health care workers and the general public in half, from ten days to five days. However, because of the rapid increase in cases, public health officials, including Fauci, have advised Americans to avoid large gatherings on New Year's Eve.
As COVID-19 cases rise, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that the country explore a vaccination mandate for domestic air travel, possibly signifying an endorsement of a notion that the Biden administration has shunned.
Fauci predicts Omicron variant cases to increase by the end of January
According to Fauci, such a rule might boost the country's low vaccination rate as well as provide better protection on planes, where federal regulations compel everyone over the age of 2 to wear a mask.
Per USA Today, the Biden administration has so far refrained from requiring vaccinations for domestic flight travel. Biden's science advisers, according to two officials, have yet to make a formal recommendation to the president on such a requirement. Officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions said requiring vaccines on planes would raise a slew of logistical and legal issues.
On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant would reach its peak in the United States by the end of January. Before providing the date, though, Fauci, the White House senior medical adviser, confessed that "it's tough to say."
Prior to his response, he mentioned the progression of Omicron cases in South Africa, where the mutation was initially discovered. According to CDC data, the United States recorded 441,000 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, shattering the previous high of 294,000 cases set on Jan. 8, 2021. Although the majority of Americans have been vaccinated, the number of cases has increased, as per NY Post.