While millions of Americans have expressed concerns about another new wave of COVID-19 infections, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that he believes those fears may be overblown.
Fauci said that as long as the country continues its mass vaccination efforts and ramping up the vaccine program, America will be able to avoid another “explosion” of COVID-19 cases in what would be the fourth major wave of new infections.
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The doctor cautioned that there could still be a new rise in cases, but if the vaccination process continues accelerating as it has been, up to nearly 30 million weekly, the number of virus-related deaths should continue to decline.
“As long as we keep vaccinating people efficiently and effectively, I don't think that's gonna happen,” Fauci said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday, April 6. “That doesn't mean that we're not going to still see an increase in cases."
According to Fauci, whether or not there is a slight uptick in cases or if it “explodes into a real surge,” will depend on Americans’ behaviors, actions, and attitudes as more economies and businesses begin opening back up.
“I think that the vaccine is gonna prevent that from happening," he said.
Fauci's appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday, April 6 came on the same day the White House announced that President Joe Biden’s administration has moved the target for all American adults to be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19, two weeks ahead of schedule for his previously stated goal.
More than 56 million people in the U.S. have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, though some regions have seen the number of cases rising, including in the Northeast.
“It's kind of like a race between the potential for a surge and our ability to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can,” he previously said. "And hopefully, if you want to make this a metaphorical race, the vaccine is going to win this one.
“You know, I really don't think that's going to happen,” Fauci said about a fourth COVID-19 wave. “I mean, we got to always keep our guard up for those things.
“But the factor that we have now that we didn't have then is the number of people that have been vaccinated.”
Fauci said that he isn't sure if “herd immunity” is capable with COVID-19, though the country continues heading in the right direction.
“Obviously, the more people you get vaccinated, the more people that successfully recover from COVID-19, the greater number of people you'll have to contribute to this concept of herd immunity,” he noted. “Since we don't know exactly what that number is, you just have to keep trying to get as many people vaccinated as you possibly can.
“Add it to the people who have recovered from infection would also contribute to that herd immunity.”
While Fauci’s outlook is promising, former FDA head Scott Gottlieb said over the weekend that while vaccines will help, it could still not be enough to stop the fourth surge.
“I do think it’s important that Dr. Fauci and the CDC director urge caution. We should continue to be cautious,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“We don’t want to be in a position where we extend the epidemic because we weren’t prudent about the steps we’re taking right now,” he added. “That said, people are sensing there is less risk overall, so they’re willing to start engaging in the things they put off for a full year.”
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