Story at a glance

  • Anthony Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show the recent drop in cases and hospitalizations is likely due to a natural plateauing of infections followed by the holiday season surge.
  • He urged people not to become complacent when it comes to public health measures to stop the spread of the virus.
  • The seven-day average for daily new cases is more than 167,000, and more than 110,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

The recent decline in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations is likely not related to vaccine distribution, and people should continue adhering to public health guidance to slow the spread of the virus, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert says. 

“The number of vaccines that we’ve gotten into the arms of people, [it’s] a good start, we want to keep going and get a lot of people vaccinated, but I don’t think the dynamics of what we’re seeing now with the plateauing is significantly influenced yet — it will be soon — but yet by the vaccine,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said during an interview on NBC’s “Today” show Monday. 


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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 22 million doses have been administered across the country with more than 41 million distributed. 

Fauci said the decline of cases and hospitalizations in recent days is likely due to a natural plateauing of infections following the surge driven by the holiday season. Cases have fallen more than 20 percent in the last two weeks nationwide. The seven-day average for daily new cases is more than 167,000, and more than 110,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 

“We don’t want to get complacent and think, ’Oh, things are going in the right direction, we can pull back a bit,' because we do have circulating in the country a variant from the U.K. that’s in over 20 states right now,” the chief medical adviser to the president said. 

The U.K. variant, which the CDC says is likely to become the dominant strain in the U.S., is believed to be more transmissible, and British health authorities warned last week there was some evidence it could be more deadly. 

Fauci emphasized the data is still preliminary, but said he is “pretty convinced there is a degree of increase in seriousness of the actual infection.” 

Health officials have said they believe current vaccines should be effective against the U.K strain and the new South African strain.


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Published on Jan 25, 2021