Dr. Fauci Just Gave This COVID "Uptick" Update
Here's what he said about the rising cases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on ABC News's This Week on Sunday in an interview with Jonathan Karl. Karl said it's likely we all know someone who has COVID now, given that hospitalizations are rising 17%. How alarmed is Fauci? How alarmed should you be? Fauci acknowledged the uptick in cases, urging vigilance as we approach the fall and winter seasons. Despite this, he expressed cautious optimism, highlighting the levels of immunity in the population. Fauci also discussed the forthcoming booster shots and the importance of vaccination. Additionally, he emphasized the effectiveness of masks while downplaying the possibility of federal mask mandates. Throughout, he underscored the CDC's ongoing evaluation of guidelines. Read on to see what you should be doing now to stay safe.
When asked about the uptick in cases, Dr. Fauci said: "I wouldn't say that I'm alarmed, but I'm certainly keeping an eye on it. There's no doubt, as you know and reported just a moment ago, we're having an uptick in cases, which is being reflected by an uptick about 17 or more percent in hospitalizations. There's no doubt that that is going on, and since we're now at the end of the summer, it is likely that that will increase as we get into the fall and the winter. So we need to be prepared for it," he said.
"You always have to keep yourself with an open mind with this virus that's fooled us before," Fauci said. "But given the level of immunity that we all have—in other words, people who've been vaccinated, boosted, people who've been infected like you and I, where we have hybrid immunity, the chances of this being an overwhelming rush of cases and hospitalizations is probably low."
"I think none of us in the public health field are predicting that this is going to be a tsunami of hospitalizations and deaths the way we saw a year or more ago," Fauci predicted. "That's the first part. The second part is that we're going to have boosters available shortly within a week or two, hopefully before the end of September. That's an XBB.1.5 booster, which is going to be pretty well matched to the kinds of viruses that are now circulating. If you look at the antibody responses, that should do well against the EG.5, which is the major circulating, and then the FL.1.5.1, and then there's another virus that is not very prevalent at all. It's only in about nine or ten states, the BA.2.86, which the vaccine should do pretty well against that also.
While Dr. Fauci didn't want to get in the way of any official recommendations, he did weigh in on who should get the booster ASAP. "My own personal feeling is that I believe certainly those who are vulnerable, the elderly and those with underlying condition," he said. "But I believe we should give the choice to people who are not in the high-risk groups to have the vaccine available for them because again, we have experience with this type of vaccine in billions of people. It's a safe vaccine. Of course, with the mRNA, there's a very, very, very low risk, particularly in young men, of getting myocarditis. But if you look at the risk of myocarditis from COVID itself is greater than the risk of the vaccine. And so from my own personal standpoint, yeah, I would say that make it available for everyone, but certainly recommended for the high-risk people."
"There's a new study out that suggested masks were actually not effective, at least in a global sense, in containing the pandemic. What is your sense, looking back at all of this, did masks prove to be less effective than you anticipated?" asked Karl. Faui said the study that "recently has been now quoted a lot and causing a lot of confusion is this Cochrane study, which even the people who run the Coran studies say that that study can be misleading because people have commented on that study saying, absolutely masks don't work, which is absolutely not the case because there are a number of studies that show that masks actually do work, and there's a lot of confusion when you take a broad, a series of studies and you look at them in a meta-analysis. Only a couple of those studies were specifically looking at COVID. So I think we better be careful that that study that people keep talking about can be very, very misleading. There's a lot of good data that masks work."
That said, Dr. Fauci did not see federal mask mandates coming in the future. "No, I don't see that in the future at all. I mean, I can see that if we get a significant uptick in cases that you may see the recommendation that masks be used under certain circumstances and indoor crowded settings, but I don't see, there'd be certainly not federal mandates. I would be extremely surprised if we would see that. There may be local organizations that may require masks, but I think what we're going to see mostly are if the cases go up that there might be recommendations, not mandates. There's a big difference there."
Fauci said the CDC is always looking "at the kinds of guidelines they put out. So I don't want to get ahead of them and say that they should change them, but certainly they reevaluate them intermittently to make sure that they're up to date with the current scientific knowledge."