Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) And President Biden’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview published Tuesday that “just about everybody” will be infected with the Omicron variant.
Fauci made the remarks in a “fireside chat” interview with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In the interview, CSIS Senior Vice President j. Stephen Morrison discussed the pandemic over the last few years, as well as the current Omicron variant and the “mixed results from vaccination campaigns.”
“Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will, ultimately, find just about everybody. Those who have been vaccinated and vaccinated and boosted would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death,” Fauci said in the interview.
“Unfortunately, those who are still unvaccinated are going to get the brunt of the severe aspect of this, and although it is less severe on a case by case basis, when you quantitatively have so many people who are infected, a fraction of them, even if it’s a small fraction, are going to get seriously ill and are going to die, and that’s the reason why it will challenge our health system,” Fauci added.
Later in the interview, Morrison asked Fauci if he believes that we need a new national strategy to combat the pandemic. Fauci stated that they will need to implement a new strategy, but that that’s where “we may differ with some people.”
“Dr. Morrison: So do you agree that we need to think about a new national strategy as we get past the worst of this? Obviously, the urgent emergency operational challenges have to be front and center and we have to deal with those. As you point out, we’re in an extraordinary moment in this pandemic. But when we look beyond that, do you believe that we are going to need a new strategy? And if so, what’s that going to mean? What are we going to change in the way we think about this and what we do about it?
Dr. Fauci: Well, ultimately we will need a new strategy. Well, put it this way: We should have a new strategy now; ultimately we’re going to implement it, because, you know, I don’t think we can implement it right now with this stress on our health care system. But the ultimate strategy is what a lot of people are talking about. I mean, a lot of people, even people with diverse and sometimes conflicting viewpoints on things. We cannot let this virus dominate our lives much longer; we’ve got to get into a situation where we get enough people protected, either from vaccination or boosters, and whether that’s going to be a regular boost or the next boost will be the one that keeps us going with a big duration. We don’t know that, Steve. We don’t know what the answer to that is. But we’ve got to get to the point where all of us are going to get our lives back and not be dominated by this and always looking over our shoulder. And I believe that that’s what everybody’s talking about a transition. And the sooner the better we get there, but there are some things we can do.
And this is where we may differ with some people. The easiest way to get there is to do the kinds of things we’ve been talking about, is to get people vaccinated, get people boosted, because if you look at the things we worry about – the hospitalizations and the deaths – that if you compare – and the data are very clear – vaccinated people with unvaccinated people – if you are unvaccinated, you have a 10 times greater chance of getting infected, a 17 times greater chance of getting hospitalized, and a 20 times greater chance of dying. So if we could only get that extra group, and they may not ever want to get – I mean, we realize that there’s a reality in life they may not want to, but I would hope that they look at what’s going on and say, why don’t we all pull together to end this thing? That’s the only message I have. It’s very clear and it’s very compatible with what the CDC and the FDA and everybody else is saying.”
Last month, as I reported, Fauci told White House reporters that “all indications” from recent data suggest that the Omicron variant of coronavirus is less severe than the Delta variant.
“In the United States, we are getting accumulation of data. Those spikes in cases is out of proportion to the increase in hospitalization. So if one looks at 14 day averages, the data as of last night indicate a plus 126 percent increase in cases and an 11 percent increase in hospitalizations.”
Fauci then said that hospitalizations and deaths are “lagging indicators.”
“However, the pattern and disparity between cases and hospitalizations strongly suggest that there would be a lower hospitalization-to-case ratio when the situation becomes more clear,” he stated.