Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Sunday that an already-rising tide of coronavirus infections may get another boost as Americans flock together for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations despite warnings from public health officials.
“We very well might see a post-seasonal — in the sense of Christmas, New Year’s — surge, and as I’ve described it, as a surge upon a surge,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Fauci, a White House advisor and one of the country’s leading infectious disease specialists, expressed optimism about the pace of vaccine distribution, which began this month after federal regulators approved two drugs made by Pfizer and Moderna.
But he said he agreed with the assessment made by President-elect Joe Biden, who warned on Tuesday that “our darkest days in this battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us.”
“I share the concern of President-elect Biden that as we get into the next few weeks it might actually get worse,” Fauci said.
The United States recorded an average of 189,578 daily new Covid-19 cases over the past week and 2,250 deaths, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It’s possible those figures are an undercount as a result of a dip in reporting during the holidays.
“When you are dealing with a baseline of 200,000 cases per day and 2,000 deaths per day with the hospitalizations over 120,000, we are really at a very critical point,” Fauci said.
Fauci said “traveling and the likely congregating of people for the good warm purposes of being together for the holidays” adds pressure to the worsening crisis.
He also addressed a mutation of the coronavirus that has been identified in the United Kingdom, saying, “We are looking at it intensively now.” Doctors in that country have said the mutation appears to spread more rapidly, spurring a number of countries to suspend travel from the bloc. The U.S. will require those flying from the country to test negative for Covid-19 starting on Monday.
Initial indications suggest that the mutation will not affect the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine and that it is not “more serious virus in terms of virulence,” Fauci added.