Story at a glance
- Anthony Fauci said “it’s conceivable” COVID-19 could become endemic in 2022.
- That’s only if more people get vaccinated and get booster shots.
- Fauci’s comments come as the U.S. is seeing an uptick in cases going into the winter holidays.
The nation’s top infectious diseases expert says COVID-19 could transition to an endemic illness in the U.S. by next year if more Americans become vaccinated and get their booster shots.
In an interview Tuesday with the Reuters Total Health Conference, Anthony Fauci said “it’s conceivable” COVID-19 could become endemic in 2022, meaning it will always be present in the population much like the flu or chicken pox, but only if a lot more people roll up their sleeves to get the vaccine.
“I hope we do, and it might even be likely, if we implement a good vaccination of the unvaccinated and a really good uptake of boosting those who are fully vaccinated,” Fauci said.
“Just look at what’s going on in Israel, look what other countries are doing now about adopting a booster campaign virtually for everybody. I think if we do that, and we do it in earnest, I think by the spring we can have a pretty good control of this,” he said.
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Fauci said reaching endemic levels in the U.S. means the level of infection is so low it doesn’t have a significant impact on society.
“People will still get infected. People might still get hospitalized, but the level would be so low that we don’t think about it all the time and it doesn’t influence what we do,” he said.
Fauci’s comments come as the U.S. is seeing an uptick in cases going into the winter holidays. COVID-19 cases have increased nearly 27 percent in the last three weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of Nov. 14, the seven-day average was 80,823 daily cases, up from 63,852 on Oct. 24.
Just under 60 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, and all adults may soon be eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot as regulators consider expanding authorization. Some cities and states, including California, New Mexico and Colorado, are already allowing adults to get boosters of the Pfizer vaccine.
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