El Dr. Anthony Fauci. Foto: Financial Times.

USA: Fauci declares that the pandemic is not over

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that the coronavirus is under control in the United States. But that the pandemic is not over, and that the challenge was how to continue improving the situation.

“We’re at a different time in the pandemic,” said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. After a brutal winter surge, “we have now slowed down and moved into a more controlled phase,” he said. “In no way does that mean the pandemic is over.”

Fauci’s comments reflect how health officials are grappling with the next stage of the pandemic: how to keep COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations manageable and learn to live with what is still an unpredictable, mutating virus.

Fauci said the United States appears to be out of what he called the “withering phase” of the pandemic, huge surges in variants that, at worst, have led to hundreds of thousands of daily infections, along with tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

COVID-19 cases are at a lower point than they have been in months. Two-thirds of the US population is vaccinated. Nearly half of those who need a booster dose have received the additional injection, and effective treatments are available.

“We are much, much better than a year ago,” said the expert. Still, there have been pauses before, and while cases are low, they are rising in many parts of the country.

To keep getting better, Fauci ticked off a to-do list: Getting more people fully vaccinated; develop even better vaccines; discover the best reinforcement strategy to counter variants; and making sure people can access treatment as soon as they need it.

“We can’t take our foot off the pedal,” Fauci said. “There’s a lot of viral dynamics around the world and we may still get another variant that could lead to another potential surge.”

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