Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Omicron spread ‘truly unprecedented,’ Fauci says

Story at a glance

  • White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Tuesday the rate at which the omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading is truly unprecedented.
  • Fauci told ABC’s “Good Morning America” the way omicron cases are rapidly rising is “really extremely unusual.”
  • Fauci said health officials are hopeful the new cases related to the variant decline as quickly as they have risen.

White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Tuesday the rate at which the omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading is “truly unprecedented.”

Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” the way omicron cases are rapidly rising is “really extremely unusual,” noting cases are doubling every two days in the U.S. 

“It’s a doubling time of two to three days, closer to two days,” Fauci said. “Which means that if you start off with a few percentage of the isolates being omicron, and you do the math and double that every couple of days, it’s not surprising that just a week or two ago we had only 8 percent to 10 percent, and now we have 73 percent of all the isolates are omicron.” 

“That’s truly unprecedented in the rapidity with which a virus spreads,” he added. 


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But Fauci said health officials are hopeful the new cases related to the variant decline as quickly as they have risen. 

“When you have something that goes up this quickly, often you see it come right back down. Because what will happen is that almost everyone is either going to get infected, particularly the unvaccinated, or be vaccinated,” he said.

Recent CDC modeling indicates that omicron cases could peak in January at higher levels than previous strains. Outgoing director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, said on Sunday the U.S. could potentially see cases nearing 1 million per day without adequate mitigation strategies.

“Even if it has a somewhat lower risk of severity, we could be having a million cases a day if we’re not really attentive to all of those mitigation strategies,” Collins told NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” “And you know a small fraction of a big number is still a really big number.”


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