Fauci warns more severe COVID-19 variant could emerge as cases rise: US 'could really be in trouble'

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Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Wednesday that another coronavirus variant could emerge as the nation’s daily case rate continues to climb.

In an interview with McClatchy D.C., the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director warned that cases of the super-infectious delta variant could double in the near future. 

Fauci told the outlet that the U.S. would likely “wind up somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” as the country battles what he called a “different virus.”

While the Biden administration has painted this outbreak as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Fauci said that even if every person was vaccinated today the U.S. would not “see an effect until the middle to end of September.”

He told McClatchy D.C. that he was hopeful that full approval from the Food and Drug Administration of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines would result in a “bump” in vaccination rates.

That said, vaccinated individuals can still carry and pass the virus and studies have shown that vaccinated individuals are still at risk of “long-haul COVID.”

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. had tallied more than 35.3 million cases of the novel coronavirus and at least 614,785 deaths.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

It’s Fauci’s fear that the variant could mutate even further into a deadlier strain as the virus continues to spread. 

More than 63% of states, territories and jurisdictions are shown on a CDC map with a “high” level of community transmission.

“If we don’t crush the outbreak to the point of getting the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated, then what will happen is the virus will continue to smolder through the fall into the winter, giving it ample chance to get a variant which, quite frankly, we’re very lucky that the vaccines that we have now do very well against the variants – particularly against severe illness,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that that’s the case. There could be a variant that’s lingering out there that can push aside delta.”

“People who are not getting vaccinated mistakenly think it’s only about them. But it isn’t. It’s about everybody else, also,” he said.

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. had tallied more than 35.3 million cases of the novel coronavirus and at least 614,785 deaths.

This week – a month later than initially targeted – the Biden administration met its goal of 70% of U.S. adults having received at least one vaccine shot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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