Dec 19, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Omicron will drive record COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the U.S. will likely see record numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the weeks ahead due to the Omicron variant.

Driving the news: The variant has been detected in 89 countries, and experts are warning of a large winter surge due to the variant's high transmissibility and its ability to evade immune protection.

What they're saying: Asked by host Jake Tapper whether the U.S. is likely to see record high numbers of cases, as well as hospitalizations and deaths, Fauci said, "Unfortunately, Jake, I think that that is going to happen."

  • "We are going to see a significant stress in some regions of the country on the hospital system, particularly in those areas where you have a low level of vaccination,” he added.
  • "This virus is extraordinary. It has a doubling time of anywhere from two to three days," adding that the variant is "going to take over."
  • “It is going to be a tough few weeks to months, as we get deeper into the winter."

Fauci also appeared on MSNBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, where he mentioned the variant's "extraordinary capability of spreading" and that Omicron is "raging" through the world.

  • Fauci also warned the belief that Omicron cases might be less severe is derived from data from South Africa, where the population has had "so much experience with prior infections that it might be underlying immunity that's making it look like it's less severe."
  • "As a virus, it inherently may not be less severe," he warned.
  • "We have so many people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet been vaccinated. And that's going to be a real problem for stress on the hospital system," Fauci added of the coming situation in the U.S.
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