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Fauci says US headed in `wrong direction’ on COVID-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in Washington, July 20, 2021.
Image Credit: NYT

Wilmington: The United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” due to a skyrocketing number of COVID-19 cases caused by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant, the top national expert on infectious diseases said Sunday.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, calling himself “very disappointed.”

He said the recommendation that vaccinated wearing masks be “actively considered” by top government health officials. In addition, boosters may be offered for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated, Fauci said.

Fauci, who is also chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told CNN State of the Union that he was involved in conversations about changing mask guidelines.

He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates are rising, such as Los Angeles County, are already encouraging people to wear masks in closed public places, regardless of vaccination status. Fauci said these local regulations are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that vaccinated people should not wear masks in public.

More than 163 million people, or 49% of the total US population, are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Among those eligible for vaccination, aged 12 and over, this figure rises to 57%.

“This is a problem mostly among the unvaccinated, so we practically beg the unvaccinated people to come out and get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

Fauci said government experts are looking into the early data as they ponder whether to recommend booster shots for vaccinated people. He suggested that some of the more vulnerable, such as organ transplant patients and cancer patients, “most likely” should be advised of booster vaccines.

He also praised Republicans, including the government. Asa Hutchinson from Arkansas and Ron DeSantis from Florida and the second most important House Leader, Rep. Steve Scalize from Louisiana, for encouraging their voters to get vaccinated. Their states have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

“I really would like to see more and more leaders in non-vaccine areas come out and speak up and encourage people to get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

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