The US government’s top infectious disease expert warned Sunday a new wave of coronavirus infections could be on the way, pointing to the climb in cases in Europe as something the US must work to avoid.
Anthony Fauci said the decline in cases the US had seen over the past several weeks has begun to “plateau at a level as high as 60,000 cases a day,” a situation that makes the country “very vulnerable” to a fresh surge.
“And that’s what exactly happened in Europe: They had a diminution of cases, they plateaued and they pulled back on public health measures,” he told ABC News, citing a relaxation of restrictions in some countries, including the reopening of restaurants.
“We can avoid that if we continue to vaccinate people – get more and more protection – without all of a sudden pulling back on public health measures,” he said.
In Europe, multiple Italian regions were recently put under a more stringent lockdown while Germany’s top disease official says a third wave has begun. The Czech Republic’s hospitals are so strained it has turned to other EU countries for help.
Several US states have begun lifting mask mandates or will soon do so. Meanwhile, capacity restrictions in restaurants and businesses have also been eased or cancelled altogether in some states as spring break travel gets underway.
The US vaccination campaign is making rapid progress compared to the European Union. According to Fauci – who advises the White House on the pandemic – 3 million vaccine doses were administered on Saturday alone.
Overall, the number is more than 105.7 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 20 per cent of the total population has received at least one vaccination while 11.1 per cent are considered fully vaccinated.
In a separate interview with Fox News, Fauci said it would be “very helpful” if former president Donald Trump would directly urge his supporters to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
“I’m very surprised at the high percentage of Republicans who say they don’t want to get vaccinated. I don’t understand where that’s coming from. This is not a political issue,” Fauci said.
Trump was conspicuously absent from a video promoting the vaccines that was released last week starring former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama.