The COVID-19 omicron variant is “just raging around the world,” Dr Anthony Fauci, White House’s top medical adviser said Sunday as President Joe Biden prepares to issue “a stark warning of what the winter will look like” for unvaccinated Americans.
Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “the real problem” for the US hospital system is that “we have so many people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet been vaccinated.”
The prospect of a winter chilled by a wave of coronavirus infections is a severe reversal from the optimism projected by Biden some 10 months ago, when he suggested at a CNN town hall that the country would essentially be back to normal by this Christmas.
Biden has been careful not to overpromise, yet confidence in the country has been battered by an unrelenting wave of COVID-19 mutations and variations that have left many Americans emotionally exhausted, dispirited and worried about infections.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tried to defend the president’s earlier promise in a separate interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“The idea about hoping and having an aspiration to be independent of the virus after a period of time is understandable and reasonable,” Fauci said. “But the one thing that we know from, now, almost two years’ experience with this virus is that it is really very unpredictable.”
The administration is expecting a series of breakthrough infections with the surge of holiday travellers. Fauci said most people who have been vaccinated and gotten a booster should be fine if they take precautions such as wearing masks in crowded settings including airports.
Fauci was asked on CNN whether he expected a record numbers of cases — and what about hospitalisations and deaths. “Yes, well, unfortunately, I think that that is going to happen,” he said.
Biden plans to speak Tuesday on the status of the fight against COVID-19 and discuss government help for communities in need of assistance, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.
She also said he will be “issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated.”
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