The United States could soon see COVID-19 cases are rising again and vulnerable people are likely to need a fourth dose of vaccine, warned one of President Joe Biden’s top health advisers, as the White House demands more money to fight the pandemic.
Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a Biden adviser, said British officials were already warning him of an increase driven by the BA.2 variant, easing restrictions and declining protection against vaccines, and that the US tends to be a few weeks behind the case curves in the UK
“We have all three of these factors right now in this country,” Fauci said in an interview Thursday. ‘I would predict that we are going to see a bit of an increase, or at least a flattening and plateau in the fall in cases. And the question is how do we handle it. ”
U.S. cases have been steadily declining since records were set in January, easing restrictions and bidding to encourage Americans to resume a more normal life. But the administration is also urging Congress to approve new funding to avert a new crisis, continue certain programs and buy new vaccines and treatments.
Funding is also crucial to continue clinical trials with booster shots and work on developing pan-coronavirus vaccines, Fauci said. The White House has sought $ 22.5 billion in funding and warns it will soon have to phase out programs and can not buy more therapeutic treatments.
Without new funds, “many things will stop. It will really be a very serious situation,” Fauci said. “It’s just almost unscrupulous.”
Fauci spoke with the House Democrats on Thursday during the weekly meeting of the Democratic Whip at the invitation of whip Jim Clyburn and outlined the needs of the administration.
The U.S. has not ordered enough shots to give all Americans a fourth dose if necessary, officials said earlier this week. Fauci said the data is not entirely clear, but that protection against hospitalization appears to be declining after four or five months after a third shot and is expected to fall further.
“I would estimate that sooner or later we will need a fourth,” but perhaps only for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, at least in the beginning, Fauci said.
Both the money crisis and Fauci’s warnings come as Biden’s Covid team in the White House prepares for a change of leadership. Response Coordinator Jeff Zients and his deputy, Natalie Quillian, are leaving their roles next month and will be replaced by Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown School of Public Health. Fauci praised them all, while warning of the fall in cases is a good sign, but it may not hold.
“It’s really in a transition phase. We’re obviously going in the right direction,” Fauci said. “We have to be really careful and not declare total victory too soon. I believe we will be able to fall into a degree of normality. “
Jha also predicted in tweets Thursday that cases could rise again and new variants could emerge. “We will probably see more increases in infections,” he said.
The United States will need to be flexible, including potentially returning to recommend the use of masks in certain settings, Fauci said.
“We’d better be careful, because history has taught us that what happened in Britain generally happens to us three or four weeks later,” he said.