BILLIONThe US could soon see Covid-19 cases rise again and vulnerable people are likely to need a fourth dose of vaccineOne of President Joe Biden’s top health advisers warned as the White House called for more money to fight the pandemic.
Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a Biden adviser, said UK officials had warned him of an increase there due to the BA sub-variant. 2, easing restrictions and diminishing protections from vaccines, and that the US tends to be several weeks behind the UK curves
“We have all three of those elements right now in this country,” Fauci said in an interview on Thursday. “I predict that we will see a slight increase, or at least a flattening and fixed reduction in cases. And the question is how do we deal with that.”
Cases in the US have been steadily declining since records were set in January, prompting restrictions to be eased and Biden encouraging Americans to resume more normal lives. But the administration is also calling on Congress to pass new funding to respond to a new crisis, continue certain programs and purchase new vaccines and treatments.
Fauci said the funding is also important to continue clinical trials of booster shots and develop a pan-coronavirus vaccine. The White House has sought $22.5 billion in funding, warning that it will soon have to stop the programs and be unable to purchase more treatments.
Without new funding, “a lot of things stop. That would be a very serious situation indeed,” Fauci said. “It’s almost unconscionable.”
Fauci spoke Thursday with House Democrats during the weekly Democratic Whip meeting, at the invitation of Whip Jim Clyburn, outlining the administration’s needs.
Officials said earlier this week that the US had not ordered enough shots to give all Americans a fourth dose if needed. Fauci says the data aren’t entirely clear, but protection against hospitalization appears to wane four or five months after the third shot and is expected to decline further.
“I would predict that sooner or later, we’ll need a fourth,” says Fauci, though that’s probably only for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.
Both the cash crunch and Fauci’s warning come as Biden’s White House Covid team prepares for a change in leadership. Response coordinator Jeff Zient and his deputy, Natalie Quillian, will leave their roles next month and be replaced by Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health. Fauci praised them all, warning that the drop in this case is a good sign, but unlikely to last.
“It is really in transition. It is clear that we are on the right track,” said Fauci. “We have to be really careful and not declare an all-out victory too soon. I believe we will be able to stabilize at a normal level. “
Jha, in Thursday’s tweet, also predicted that cases could rise again and new variants could emerge. “We will most likely see more waves of infections,” he said.
Fauci said the US would need to be flexible, including the ability to revert to recommending the use of masks in certain settings.
“We’d better be careful, because history has taught us that what’s happening in the UK usually happens to us three or four weeks later,” he said.
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