During the White House COVID-19 response team briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he doesn’t believe COVID will be eliminated completely in the U.S., but said, “We want control” of the disease. He added that the level of control is “far, far lower” than the current level of cases and deaths.
- Thanks for doing this. Just from a 30,000 foot level, as a number of public health officials across the country and around the world are saying that COVID-19 is becoming endemic, what is now the US government's goal? What is the objective now in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic? Is it stamping it out entirely? Is it coming up with a way for the country to live with it going forward?
And then secondly, given the data that Dr. Fauci showed about the effectiveness of vaccines at preventing serious illness and death, how much longer will the public health protection measures that Dr. Walensky was talking about along the lines of masking and the like-- how long should those stay in place for when, you know, vaccines are now widely available for 90-odd percent of the country's population?
- Dr. Fauci?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well when you look at any kind of an outbreak, as I've said multiple times but I'll very briefly repeat it, you know, there's the pandemic phase, the deceleration phase, control, elimination, and eradication. I don't think we're going to get eradication. We've only done that with smallpox. We've eliminated diseases by vaccination like polio in the United States, as it exists other places. We've eliminated measles in the United States. It exists other places. We've eliminated malaria years and years ago, but it exists in other places.
So I don't think we're going to eliminate it completely. We want control. And I think the confusion is, at what level of control are you going to accept it in its endemicity? And as far as we're concerned, we don't know really what that number is. But we will know it when we get there. It certainly is far, far lower than 80,000 new infections per day. And it's far, far lower than 1,000 deaths per day and tens of thousands of hospitalizations. So even though there's a wide bracket under control, we want to get to the lowest possible level that we can get.
And rather than picking an arbitrary number, why don't we get as many people as we can get vaccinated as quickly as possible and get as many people who are eligible for booster getting boostered as possible? And then when we get to that low level, we will know it rather than picking out an arbitrary number. Back to you, Jeff.