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Fauci Doesn't Think it Will Ever Be Determined Whether Lockdowns Were Worth it, Warns Restrictions May Return

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said he does not believe "we're ever going to be able to determine" if COVID lockdowns were worth their resulting consequences and suggested that pandemic lockdowns and mask mandates could be reinstated in the event of a surge in infections and hospitalizations.

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Fauci's comments came during an interview on BBC's "Sunday Morning" with Sophie Raworth.

Asked if people will be able to go back to living a pre-pandemic life or if a future COVID variant could prompt a return to pandemic restrictions like lockdowns and mask mandates, Fauci said there is a "gradual" trend towards normalcy currently occurring but warned that people should "be prepared" for some restrictions to eventually be reimposed.

"I believe that we must keep our eye on the pattern of what we're seeing with infections," Fauci said. "Right now, I'll take the United States, for example, the cases continue to go down, the hospitalizations go down and the deaths go down. We are going in a gradual way towards what we all hope will be normal." 

"Having said that, we need to be prepared for the possibility that we would have another variant that would come along and if things change, and we do get a variant that does give us an uptick in cases and hospitalizations, we should be prepared and flexible enough to pivot towards going back, at least temporarily, to a more rigid type of restriction such as requiring masks indoors," he continued.

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been declining in the U.S. since the country saw a case surge in the winter as a result of the omicron variant.

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The new highly transmissible BA.2 omicron sub-variant spreading across the world currently accounts for 54.9 percent of infections, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Fauci said last week that he does not expect the BA.2 variant to cause a surge in coronavirus cases. 

The doctor also said during the BBC interview that he doesn't think "we're ever going to be able to determine" whether or not pandemic lockdowns were worth the negative impacts of closing people off from society but argued that such restrictions prevented a lot of hospitalizations and deaths.

"Obviously, when you do have that kind of restriction on society, there are unintended negative consequences, particularly in children who are not allowed to go to school, in the psychological and mental health aspects it has on children, in the economic stress that it puts on society in general, on individual families. Obviously, those are negative consequences that are unintended. One has to look at the balance of life saved, hospitalizations avoided," Fauci said.

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He went on to address whether the origin of COVID will ever be found given that China, the virus's country of origin, has been reluctant to allow an investigation to occur. Fauci also claimed that the most likely origin of COVID is from an animal rather than a laboratory.

"Given the fact that there's such restrictions on ability to really investigate it, I'm not sure," Fauci said when asked if the truth about COVID's origins will ever be known. "Right now, the data are accumulating over the last few months, much more heavily weighted that this was a natural occurrence, from an animal species. However, having said that, we must keep an open mind as to all possibilities of how that might have emerged."

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