Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s former chief medical adviser and one of the country’s top infectious disease experts, on Sunday said there’s “no doubt” the U.S. is experiencing a rise in the spread of COVID-19, but predicted the country is unlikely to be overwhelmed by the virus this coming winter.
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Fauci said while he is monitoring the uptick in cases, he is so far not overly worried.
“There’s no doubt that that is going on,” he said of rising COVID-19 cases. “And since we’re now at the end of the summer, it is likely that that will increase as we get into the fall and the winter. So, we need to be prepared for it.”
Fauci added that given most Americans have COVID-19 antibodies, both through vaccinations and disease-induced immunity, “the chances of this being an overwhelming rush of cases and hospitalizations is probably low.”
“I think none of us in the public health field are predicting that this is going to be a tsunami of hospitalizations and deaths the way we saw a year or more ago,” Fauci said.
He also predicted that federal mask mandates are unlikely to return.
“I can see that if we get a significant uptick in cases, that you may see the recommendation that masks be used under circumstances, in indoor crowded settings,” he said.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 boosters are set to be approved as early as this week, according to The New York Times. Moderna and Pfizer have confirmed their updated vaccines are effective against the latest BA.2.86 omicron subvariant, as well as Eris, also known as EG.5, which currently makes up the majority of cases in the U.S., according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fauci said he believes the most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, should have the booster but others should also be offered the option.
“From my own personal standpoint, yes, I would say that, make it available for everyone but certainly recommended for the high-risk people,” he said.
The CDC reported that COVID-19 hospitalizations grew by almost 16% the week ending Aug. 26, while deaths due to coronavirus increased by 10.5% in the week ending Sept. 2.