Fauci: US shouldn’t ‘declare victory prematurely’ over COVID-19

“We don’t want to declare victory prematurely because we still have a ways to go," Dr. Fauci said.

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As COVID-19 cases in the U.S. dip to the lowest rates since this time last year, Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that it’s too early to celebrate winning the war against the potentially deadly virus. 

“We don’t want to declare victory prematurely because we still have a ways to go,” Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the country, recently told the Guardian. “But the more and more people that can get vaccinated, as a community, the community will be safer and safer.”

theGRIO reported that the global death toll from the coronavirus has topped a staggering 3 million people amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

At least 50% of the adult population in the U.S. is fully vaccinated, and daily coronavirus cases have dropped 53% since May, according to Johns Hopkins University data. In April, The Associated Press reported that nearly 44% of positive cases came from the following five states: New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. These five states account for 22% of the U.S. population. Dr. Elvin H. Geng, a professor in infectious diseases at Washington University, suggested sending more coronavirus vaccines to these states.

“You wouldn’t want to make those folks wait because they were doing better,” Geng said to AP. “On the other hand, it only makes sense to send vaccines to where the cases are rising.”

According to Johns Hopkins University data, COVID rates remain high among the unvaccinated population. 

“As long as there is some degree of activity throughout the world, there’s always a danger of variants emerging and diminishing somewhat the effectiveness of our vaccines,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid).

The US recently committed to donating 80m vaccines as the White House has been under pressure from lawmakers at home and governments abroad to join an effort to waive patent rules for the vaccines so that poorer countries can begin to produce their own generic versions of the shots to vaccinate their populations.

“We are discussing right now at various levels about how we might be able to up production to get vaccine doses from the companies that are already making them for us, get more doses that will be able to be distributed to lower- and middle-income countries,” Fauci said.

“Today, in our current day, the accessibility and the convenience of getting a vaccine is really rather striking,” he added.

The CDC recently released a report noting that COVID-19 infections could drop drastically by July if the vast majority of Americans get vaccinated. 

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“We cannot abandon public health measures when you still have a degree of viral activity in the broad community in the United States,” Fauci said. “Although we’re down to less than 30,000 infections per day that’s still a lot of infections per day.”

Tara Kirk Sell, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, predicts the virus could spread rapidly among unvaccinated people in the next few months, according to the report.

“Unfortunately these groups of people who are anti-vax or who will end up being susceptible to the disease are going to be in pockets,” Sell said. “It’s not going to be evenly distributed through the population.”

“I’m happy with the numbers but we need to do more because there is still a huge number of people that are still not vaccinated,” said clinician Dr. Michelle Chester.

“The more that we can get people vaccinated, the less we have to worry about the virus in a sense of it affecting those individuals who maybe cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons,” she added. “We’re protecting them.”

*This story contains additional reporting from DeMicia Inman and The Associated Press.

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