Covid not gone, expect uptick in cases, says Fauci

Advertisement

According to Fauci, who is also the White House chief medical advisor, BA.2 subvariant is about 50 to 60 per cent more transmissible than Omicron, yet it does not appear to be more severe….reports Asian Lite News

The Covid-19 pandemic is not over and the US is soon likely to see an uptick in cases due to the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron, according to the country’s infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci.

Fauci said that the BA.2 subvariant is estimated to account for about 25 or 30 per cent of new cases in the US, and could also become the most dominant variant in the country, CNBC reported.

While Fauci said he expects a rise in cases, it will not necessarily result in a massive surge like other variants have caused.

According to Fauci, who is also the White House chief medical advisor, BA.2 subvariant is about 50 to 60 per cent more transmissible than Omicron, yet it does not appear to be more severe.

“It does have increased transmission capability,” Fauci was quoted as saying on ABC News on Sunday.

“However, when you look at the cases, they do not appear to be any more severe and they do not appear to evade immune responses either from vaccines or prior infections.”

The variant has already caused cases to increase in China and several parts of Europe including the UK. Health officials continue to stress that coronavirus vaccines and boosters remain the best ways to prevent serious illness from the virus.

Other US health experts are also warning about the emergence of the BA.2, sub-variant of the highly contagious Omicron variant that led to a significant spike in cases in the US recently.

The variant could cause a new spike in cases but that the country is in a better position now than it was in the previous two years, when Covid-19 “defined our lives”, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was quoted as saying on Fox News on Sunday

“We should be prepared, Covid hasn’t gone away. Our focus should be on preparation, not on panic.”

Scott Gottlieb, a board member of Covid vaccine maker Pfizer and a former head of the Food and Drug Administration, similarly said he also expects “some uptick” due to BA.2 but “not a big wave of infection”.

“I think we’re going to continue to see low levels of infection through the summer. But before we get there, we’re probably going to see some tick-up of infection like the Europeans are seeing right now, maybe not as pronounced,” Gottlieb was quoted as saying on CBS.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 31,200 new Covid cases on Saturday, including 958 deaths.

However, both are significantly down from the beginning of the year, the report said.

Murthy too issues warning

The COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned on Sunday, saying that cases may rise and fall in the months to come.

Dr Murthy also expressed his concern over the lack of funding to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“When we look at what’s happening around the world and over the last two years, we recognise that when cases increase in one part of the world, that often leads to increases in the other part of the world. And we should be prepared that, you know, COVID hasn’t gone away,” he told Fox News in an interview.

“There may be rises and falls in cases in the months ahead. But here’s the key, our goal is to keep people out of the hospital, it’s to save their lives, and we have more tools to do that than ever before. So our focus should be on preparation, not on panic. And if we get people these tools, vaccines, boosters, treatments, then we can actually get through waves that may come and go.”

“The thing that concerns me right now is that as much work as we’ve done in the last two years to get the right tools, we’ve got to continue funding them and supporting them so they are available to people across the country. That’s what Congress moving to provide that funding is so cortical,” Dr Murthy said.

During the last wave of the omicron variant, most sick were unvaccinated.

“So, the bottom line is those vaccinations and boosters work and the treatments that we now have in greater quantities than ever before, those also help to reduce our risk, but you’d rather prevent an infection than get it and treat it. That’s why these vaccines and boosters are essential,” he asserted.

Older age and illnesses like obesity are the ones that put one at higher risk.

“Those include the vaccines and boosters, but we’ve also found that other tools, whether they are masks, whether they are using testing strategically, these can be helpful in limiting the spread of the virus,” Dr Murthy said.

Responding to a question, Dr Murthy said that he does not think they can afford to move on.

“But I do think that we can move forward with more confidence, that we can live our lives and not let COVID define our lives, because we do have, in fact, better tools that have proven to save our lives and keep us out of the hospital,” he said.

“Over the last two years, COVID defined our lives, it restricted us in profound ways. But because we have better tools, we have the power to move forward now and manage the virus and do so thoughtfully because, you know, we’ve been able to get our kids back to school, you know, over the last year.

“I mean more than 95 per cent of kids are back in school. That’s a big win. I’m a dad of two small kids who, thankfully, are back in school. We’ve gotten people back to work. People are seeing their family and friends again. We need to keep doing these things. We now have the tools to do so safely,” Dr Murthy added.

ALSO READ: Global Covid caseload tops 470.6 mn