In The News This Week: Dr. Fauci Says Omicron Variant Will Likely Escalate

Appearing earlier this week on ABC’s This Week with Johnathan Karl, America’s infectious disease expert said that with the latest omicron Variant, COVID-19 will continue to escalate.

“Every week it goes up and up,” he said. “The last weekly average was about 150,000 and will likely go much higher.”

The variant dubbed Omicron is said to be less severe in terms of keeping people out of the hospital. Nevertheless, the Head of the NIAID said people should not become complacent.

“And we’re particularly worried about those who are in that unvaccinated class, that, you know, tens and tens of Americans are eligible for vaccination, who have not been vaccinated. Those are the most vulnerable ones when you have a virus that is extraordinarily effective in getting to people and infecting them the way omicron is.

“So, even though we’re pleased by the evidence from multiple countries, that it looks like there is a lesser degree of severity, we’ve got to be careful that we don’t get complacent about that.”

Last week, president Biden announced the distribution of 500 million COVID-19 in-home test kits scheduled to begin in January of 2022.

“The beginning of the year, there were essentially no rapid point of care home tests available,” Fauci said. “Now there are over nine of them and more coming. The production of them has been rapidly upscaled, and yet because of the demand that we have, which in some respects, Jon, is good, that we have a high demand because we should be using testing much more extensively than we have.

“But the situation where you have such a high demand, a conflation of events, omicron stirring people to get appropriately concerned and wanting to get tested as well as the fact of the run on tests during the holiday season – we’ve obviously got to do better. I think things will improve greatly as we get into January. But that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow.”

Trump’s recent comments on the vaccines.

Karl: “You know, it’s interesting. On this question of the vaccination, I’m sure you saw president Trump came out and said that he had received the booster shot. He actually got booed a little by the crowd of his supporters as he said that.

“And now, you know, there’s another interview he did with a conservative outlet, with Candice Owens, where he pushed back on the idea that the vaccine is not protecting people. He said that the people going to hospitals are the ones that largely have not been vaccinated. You don’t die if you get the vaccine.”

Fauci: “Well, I certainly hope so, Jon. We’ll take anything we can get about getting people vaccinated. I was a bit dismayed when former president Trump made that statement and his followers booed him, which, I was stunned by that – I mean, given the fact of how popular he is with that group…”

Merck and Pfizer’s anti-viral tablets.

“Is this the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for?” Karl asked him.

Fauci: “There are two things that are really encouraging about this approval of these, particularly the Pfizer product which is about 90% effective in preventing you from getting to the hospital or dying, compared to placebo.

“That’s part of the comprehensive approach to the outbreak,” Fauci said. “Vaccines and boosters , masks and now very importantly , a highly effective therapy is really going to make a major difference. We’ve just got to make sure that there’s the production of that product that we can get it widely used for those who need it as quickly as possible.”

Sources: ABC News/This Week Transcript.

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