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Fauci declares Covid ‘full-blown outbreak’ pandemic phase nearing end in US

The president’s chief medical adviser says the US is getting through the “full-blown” pandemic phase of Covid-19, as he predicts a combination of vaccination, treatment and pre-infection will soon make the virus worse. easier to control.

Dr Anthony Fauci told the Financial Times that he hopes there will be signs of an end to all pandemic-related restrictions in the coming months, including mandatory mask wearing.

In his most optimistic comments on the trajectory of the pandemic since the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant, he outlined a scenario where local health departments would be more in the lead in responding to the virus. is the Biden administration.

“As we come out of the full-blown pandemic phase of Covid-19, which we are certainly moving toward, these decisions will increasingly be made at the local level rather than being made,” said Fauci. determined or authorized at the central level. There will also be more people making their own decisions about how they want to deal with the virus. “

When asked when the restrictions might end, he said he hoped it would be “soon” and agreed with the suggestion that it would probably happen this year. But he warned local health departments could reintroduce temporary measures if an outbreak is detected in the community.

Fauci’s comments add to a sense of optimism among health officials across the developing world that the Omicron variant could herald the end of the most damaging phase of the pandemic.

He is one of the most cautious voices in the United States about the pandemic and often conflicted Donald Trump as he feels the former president is minimizing the risks of the virus.

More than 900,000 people have died in the US from Covid-19. While the country’s daily death toll remains near record levels, new infections have begun to decline rapidly, following similar declines in countries such as South Africa and Britain.

Fauci will not repeat the affirmation by several world leaders that the virus is now becoming “endemic”. But he spoke of the possibility that it will soon reach an “equilibrium” where the government no longer has to pay much attention to the level of infection.

“There is no way we can destroy this virus,” he said. “But I hope we are looking at a point where we have enough people vaccinated and enough people protected from infection before that Covid restrictions will soon be a thing of the past.”

He added that he doesn’t think every American will need regular vaccinations to stop the virus. “It will depend on who you are,” he said. “But if you’re a normal, healthy person over 30 and don’t have underlying medical conditions, you might just need a booster shot every four or five years.”

Fauci said his agency is planning for the next pandemic, focusing on monitoring viruses and families of viruses thought to cause severe illness. Coping with future outbreaks will require a combination of vaccines and therapies, he added.

But he pushed back against criticism that public health officials have become too reliant on vaccines to eliminate Covid-19.

“From the very beginning of the outbreak, we were testing treatments,” he said, pointing to the development of Remdesivir, a treatment “found within the first month or two.” of the pandemic.

He added: “Now this is one of five interventions that can keep patients from leaving the hospital.

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