- Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Sunday against the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols.
- While the baseline of cases has fallen in the US, he said the too soon relaxation could lead to a “rebound.”
- About 70,000 new COVID-19 cases are still diagnosed each day in the US.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, warned Sunday that “it’s really too premature” to relax efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Fauci said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “When you start to see a decline in the number of cases, if you prematurely lift the restrictions, we have a few examples of the rebound back.”
A number of states have begun to roll back or relax some of their longstanding COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Movie theaters in New York City will reopen in a limited capacity in March.
At 70,000, Fauci said the current baselines of the number of cases diagnosed in the US each day remained “too high,” even though that figure is significantly down from the more than 300,000 new cases diagnosed daily at the height of the pandemic in the US at the beginning of the year.
“We understand the need and the desire, understandably, to want to just pull back because things are going in the right direction,” he continued. “But you’ve got to get that baseline down lower than it is now, particularly in light of the fact that we have some worrisome variants that are in places like California and New York and others that we’re keeping our eye on.”
Fauci also on Sunday urged Americans to take any vaccine available to them, no matter whether it be manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson. The US Food and Drug Administration last week granted an emergency use authorization for the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine, which could greatly accelerate the US vaccine rollout.
“All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available to them,” he said.
Fauci estimated for true “herd immunity” to take place in the US, between 70% and 85% of the population would have to have some sort of immunity to COVID-19.
“But before you get to true herd immunity, you could still get a terrific example of getting less and less cases as more and more people get vaccinated,” he said. “So, you don’t have to have absolute herd immunity to get those cases way down as you get more and more people vaccinated.”
According to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University, more than 28 million people in the US have been diagnosed with COVID-19, which has led to more than 511,000 deaths in the US.