Fauci: Record coronavirus deaths in US from omicron likely

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


President Biden's chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, said on Sunday that it is likely the United States will see record numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths as the omicron variant spreads.

During an interview on "State of the Union," CNN's Jake Tapper asked Fauci where the pandemic is headed.

"Do you expect new record high numbers for cases? And what about hospitalizations and deaths?" Tapper asked.

"Yes, well, unfortunately, Jake, I think that that is going to happen," Fauci confirmed. "We are going to see a significant stress in some regions of the country on the hospital system, particularly in those areas where you have a low level of vaccination, which is one of the reasons why we continue to stress the importance of getting those unvaccinated people vaccinated."

Fauci predicted that upcoming weeks are going to be difficult as omicron makes its way across the United States.

"It is going to be tough. We can't walk away from that, Jake. We can't because with omicron that we're dealing with, it is going to be a tough few weeks to months as we get deeper into the winter," Fauci told Tapper.

The omicron variant, which was first detected last month in South Africa, was found within the United States earlier this month. Scientists are still trying to learn more about the variant, but officials confirm that it has a fast doubling time.

Fauci said on Sunday that while officials had anticipated a new variant, they had not expected the number of mutations from the omicron variant.

"We definitely saw variants coming. I think what one referred to, what was not anticipated was the extent of the mutations and the amino acid substitutions in omicron, which is really unprecedented," Fauci said. "It kind of came out of nowhere, where you have a virus that has 50 mutations, 30 of which are in the spike protein and 10 or 12 of which are in the receptor binding domain. I mean, to me, that's really quite unprecedented."

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