Fauci anticipates US COVID-19 case increase

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. are still on the decline, but based on what is unfolding in some European countries, Anthony Fauci, MD, predicts that could soon change, Bloomberg reported March 17. 

The BA.2 subvariant combined with society's reopening and waning immunity from vaccination or prior infection are driving a simultaneous increase of cases and hospitalizations in the U.K.

"We have all three of those factors right now in this country," Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House COVID-19 response team, told Bloomberg. "I would predict that we are going to see a bit of an increase, or at least a flattening out and plateauing of the diminution of cases. And the question is how do we deal with that." 

Bloomberg also cited a March 17 meeting among House Democrats in which Dr. Fauci offered the following warning: "We'd better be careful, because history has taught us that what's gone on in the U.K. generally happens to us three or four weeks later."

Health experts' concerns over signs of a looming U.S. surge  come as the White House urges Congress to approve $22.5 billion in funding to avert a fresh crisis from future COVID-19 waves. Insufficient funds to purchase booster doses, variant-specific vaccines and new treatments are among the consequences if Congress denies additional funding, the Biden administration said. 

Dr. Fauci said "a lot of things are going to stop" without more funding. "It really will be a very serious situation. It just is almost unconscionable," he said. 

The U.S. has not ordered enough vaccine doses to give all Americans a fourth dose if data ultimately points to the need for the extra dose to maintain sufficient protection against severe illness. Pfizer has submitted an application to the FDA seeking authorization for a second booster among people 65 and older. 

 

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