Fauci: Too soon to say if omicron is final wave of pandemic

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, answers questions during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Jan. 11, 2022.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, answers questions during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Jan. 11, 2022.


Anthony Fauci said on Monday that it is too soon to say whether omicron is the final wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House chief medical adviser, while speaking at the World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda online conference, said that "it is an open question whether it will be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for," according to CNBC.

"I would hope that that's the case. But that would only be the case if we don't get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant," he added.

Omicron is the most transmissible variant to appear so far, but seems to cause fewer hospitalizations and deaths than previous mutations of the virus, which has made many question if the pandemic is finally close to an end.

The new variant already accounts for over 94 percent of the cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which shows how quickly the highly transmissible variant has displaced the previously dominant delta variant.

Fauci's comments come a week after Europe's top medical product regulation agency said that the COVID-19 omicron variant may be pushing the pandemic into becoming endemic.

Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy for the European Medicines Agency (EMA), told reporters on Tuesday that the natural immunity conferred by the highly infectious omicron strain may be fast-tracking the progress towards endemicity.

According to the BBC, epidemiologists would consider a disease endemic when "levels are consistent and predictable - unlike the boom and bust waves so far in the pandemic."

However, the variant that was discovered in November has since caused a winter surge in cases around the world, forcing some countries, states and cities to put restrictions back in place.

Fauci added that there is some resistance from the public in the fight against the coronavirus which has been hampering attempts to control the spread of the virus.

He said that "we have such a degree of pushback against regular, normal, easy-to-understand public health measures" like reluctance to wear masks, to promote vaccination, and "to do the kinds of measures we know if we all pull together as a society we'd be much, much better off," Bloomberg reported.

However, he added that "we don't want to get into a whack-a-mole for every variant, where you have to make a booster against a particular variant. You'll be chasing it forever."

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