'I don't think we can afford to move on' from COVID, surgeon general says

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Vivek Murthy
Vivek Murthy Amanda Stronza/Getty Images for SXSW

Future waves triggered by new COVID-19 variants are likely, but Americans' "focus should be on preparation, not on panic," U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Fox News Sunday.

Host Trace Gallagher began the interview by observing that new COVID cases in the United States have dropped by 95 percent since the Omicron-driven spike in January but that "the contagious new BA.2 subvariant" is beginning to cause new surges in Europe and elsewhere.

"Do you expect a new wave in this country, doctor?" Gallagher asked.

"There may be rises and falls in cases in the months ahead," Murthy responded. "But here's the key: our goal is to keep people out of the hospital, it's to save their lives, and we have more tools to do that than ever before."

"So, our focus should be on preparation, not on panic. And if we get people these tools, vaccines, boosters, treatments, then we can actually get through waves that may come and go," he continued.

According to data from The New York Times, 65 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated — defined as one dose of Johnson & Johnson or two doses of Pfizer or Moderna — and 29 percent have received a booster. Eighty-nine percent of Americans over age 65 are fully vaccinated.

When asked whether politicians have "moved on" from COVID, Murthy responded, "I don't think we can afford to move on, but I do think that we can move forward with more confidence, that we can live our lives and not let COVID define our lives."

Murthy also emphasized the need for continued funding to help tackle future variants and pandemics. Earlier this month Congress dropped $15 billion in continued COVID response funding from a $1.5 trillion package to fund the government.

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