According to Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, the United States is finally “out of the full-blown explosive pandemic phase” that has resulted in nearly 1 million deaths from covid-19 and more than two years of suffering and hardship.
“We’re really in a transitional phase,” Fauci told The Washington Post, “from a deceleration of the numbers into hopefully a more controlled phase and endemicity.”
Fauci’s remarks came a day after he told PBS’s “NewsHour” that the country is “out of the pandemic phase,” and he expanded on and clarified that view on Wednesday, stating that the pandemic is not over and that the United States could still see an increase in coronavirus infections. However, the virus is no longer causing the level of hospitalization and death seen in previous waves of infection in this country.
“The world is still in the grip of a pandemic. That is without a doubt. There should be no misunderstandings about that. “We are still in the grip of a pandemic,” Fauci said.
He claims that the United States was in a “full-blown pandemic phase” in the winter before entering a “deceleration” phase. He stated that the country is entering the control phase. That’s where he expects the public health crisis to settle, with the virus still circulating but not causing devastating new waves of hospitalization and death.
“There’s the full-blown pandemic dynamic, as we were months ago, with 900,000 cases per day, tens of thousands of hospitalizations, and three thousand deaths per day,” he explained. “The death toll dropped from 3,000 to 300.”
Fauci predicted in May that the virus would be “under control” by autumn. That was quickly rendered impossible by the delta variant. The biggest wave of cases was then caused by Omicron.
Since then, new omicron subvariants — BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 — have spread and are even more transmissible than previous strains, and case numbers are rising again across the country, but there hasn’t been a significant increase in hospitalizations.
“Right now, we’re at a low enough level that I believe we’re on the verge of endemicity.” We are not in the midst of a full-fledged explosive pandemic. That does not mean the pandemic is over, according to Fauci. “A pandemic is defined as widespread infection all over the world… In our country, we’re moving toward a more controlled endemicity.”
Restrictions are being eased as many Americans appear to be moving on from the pandemic. Most of the country’s masking requirements have been lifted, and officials have stopped enforcing a federal mask mandate in transportation settings after a judge overturned the requirement.
During the pandemic’s darkest days, many people wondered when the country would be able to declare the disaster, which had killed nearly 1 million Americans, to be over.
Fauci’s remarks are likely to stoke debate about how the country should handle this situation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 60 percent of Americans — including three out of every four children — were infected with the coronavirus as of the end of February. Officials cautioned, however, that the data did not indicate that Americans have widespread immunity to the virus due to previous infections.
While previous infections are thought to offer some protection against serious disease for the majority of people, health experts say vaccination is the best protection against infection and serious disease or death.
The coronavirus will not be eradicated, according to Fauci, but it can be managed if its spread is kept “very low” and people are vaccinated “intermittently,” though he did not specify how frequently this would have to occur. And he echoed warnings issued earlier this month by the World Health Organization and the United Nations that the pandemic is far from over because vaccination rates remain too low, particularly in developing countries.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is appealing a ruling by a Trump-appointed judge that struck down the federal transportation mask mandate, including on planes, though even if successful, the effort would face a hostile American public.
In a reminder that the coronavirus is still present, the White House announced on Tuesday that Vice President Harris had tested positive and was asymptomatic, arguably the nation’s highest-profile coronavirus infection since President Donald Trump’s in 2020. According to the White House, she was not a close contact of Biden’s.