The United States is in an predicament of soaring COVID-19 cases fuelled by unvaccinated Americans and the Delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert says.
- COVID-19 cases are on the rise in 90 per cent of US jurisdictions
- Nearly half the population remains fully unvaccinated
- American authorities are considering recommending masks for the vaccinated, and booster shots for the immune suppressed
“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr Anthony Fauci on Sunday, local time, describing himself as “very frustrated.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting a rise in COVID-19 cases in 90 per cent of jurisdictions, with 35 per cent of US counties experiencing high levels of community transmission.
There were 27,395 new cases of COVID-19 and 115 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University on July 25.
Dr Fauci said the government’s leading public health officials were actively considering recommending the vaccinated wear masks and booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated.
Dr Fauci, who also serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN’s State of the Union that he had taken part in conversations about altering the mask guidelines.
He noted in some local jurisdictions where infection rates were surging, such as Los Angeles County, authorities were calling on individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status.
Dr Fauci said those local rules were compatible with the CDC’s recommendation that the vaccinated do not need to wear masks in public.
More than 163 million people, or 49 per cent of the total US population, are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Dr Fauci said the soaring cases were a result of unvaccinated Americans spreading the virus.
“(This) is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated,” he said.
Dr Fauci said government experts were reviewing early data as they considered whether to recommend booster shots for vaccinated individuals.
He suggested some of the most vulnerable, such as organ transplant and cancer patients, were “likely” to be recommended for booster shots.
He also praised Republicans, including governors Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, and the second-ranking House leader representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, for encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated.
Their states have among the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
“What I would really like to see is more and more of the leaders in those areas that are not vaccinating to get out and speak out and encourage people to get vaccinated,” Fauci said.