The U.S. is “out of the pandemic phase,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top public health official who has helped lead the national response to COVID-19 for more than two years.
“Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths,” he said April 26 in an interview with the PBS NewsHour’s anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff.
“We’re not going to eradicate this virus,” Fauci said, adding that in order to keep levels low, the U.S. would have to intermittently vaccinate people, at a frequency yet to be determined — possibly every year. But, for now, the U.S. is not in a pandemic phase, he said.
“A pandemic means a widespread, throughout-the-world infection that spreads rapidly among people. So if you look at the global situation, there’s no doubt this pandemic is still ongoing,” Fauci said.
Earlier in the same day, Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19, and Fauci’s comments come at a time when the U.S. coronavirus death toll is expected to soon surpass 1 million. And a new CDC report revealed that three out of four children, and nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults, have already contracted the virus.
BA.2, a more transmissible variation of omicron, is now the dominant strain and driving a slow rise in cases across the country. But Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s new COVID-19 response coordinator, said at an April 26 briefing that hospitalizations are at the lowest level of the pandemic as deaths continue to fall, despite BA.2’s presence in the country.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization announced that the global death count fell to its lowest level since March 2020, but cautioned that several countries have slowed down their testing efforts, which makes it difficult to track the virus’ impact and next steps. China and several countries in Europe have also seen recent spikes in infections.
“This virus won’t go away just because countries stopped looking for it. It’s still spreading, it’s still changing, and it’s still killing,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general.
“Although deaths are declining, we still don’t understand the long-term consequences of infection in those who survive. When it comes to a deadly virus, ignorance is not bliss.”
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