Dr Anthony Fauci revealed Sunday that officials may recommend Americans go back to wearing masks as he blamed unvaccinated people for taking the country in the ‘wrong direction’ on Covid.
The US is in an ‘unnecessary predicament’ of soaring Covid-19 cases fuelled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent Delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert said.
‘We’re going in the wrong direction,’ said Fauci, describing himself as ‘very frustrated’. He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is ‘under active consideration’ by the government’s leading public health officials.
Dr Anthony Fauci believes the US is in an ‘unnecessary predicament’ of soaring Covid-19 cases fuelled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent Delta variant
He added that booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated.
Fauci, who also serves President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN’s State Of The Union that he has taken part in conversations about altering the mask guidelines.
He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates are surging, such as Los Angeles County, are already calling on individuals to wear masks in public regardless of vaccination status.
Fauci said those local rules are compatible with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that the vaccinated do not need to wear masks in public.
Nearly 163 million people, or 49% of the eligible US population, are vaccinated, according to CDC data.
‘This is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated,’ Fauci said.
He said government experts are reviewing early data as they consider whether to recommend that vaccinated individuals get booster shots.
He suggested that some of the most vulnerable, such as organ transplant and cancer patients, are ‘likely’ to be recommended for booster shots.
He also praised Republicans, including governors Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, and the second-ranking House leader, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, for encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated.
Their states have among the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
‘What I would really like to see is more and more of the leaders in those areas that are not vaccinating to get out and speak out and encourage people to get vaccinated,’ Fauci said.
He added that Americans who are immune compromised may end up needing COVID vaccine booster shots as cases continue to mount.
‘Those who are transplant patients, cancer chemotherapy, auto-immune diseases, that are on immunosuppressant regimens, those are the kind of individuals that if there’s going to be a third booster, which might likely happen, would be among first the vulnerable,’ he said.
Last week, Israel’s health ministry reported a decrease in the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine in preventing infections and symptomatic illness. But it added that the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer with partner BioNTech still remained highly effective in preventing severe illness.
‘We’re going in the wrong direction,’ said Fauci, describing himself as ‘very frustrated’
The decline in efficacy coincided with the spread of the Delta variant, now the dominant strain in Israel.
Israel is administering third doses of the vaccine to immunocompromised people, including those who have had heart, lung, kidney or liver transplants and cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
The Delta variant, which was first found in India, is driving up infections in the United States.
The sharpest increases in COVID-19 cases are in places with lower vaccination rates. Florida, Texas and Missouri account for 40% of all new cases nationwide, with around one in five of all new U.S. cases occurring in Florida, White House adviser Jeffrey Zients said last week.
Pfizer and BioNTech said on Friday that the United States had purchased 200 million more doses of their vaccine to help with pediatric vaccination as well as possible booster shots.
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