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Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a Senate hearing this month. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci believes the COVID-19 pandemic could become endemic in the U.S. next year, but increased vaccination rates and booster shots would be key to achieving this.

The big picture: The nation's top infectious disease expert made the comments in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the STAT Summit. But he noted to CNBC that coronavirus cases need to fall "well below 10,000" a day for the U.S. "to get back to a degree of normality."

  • And Fauci expressed concern in a prerecorded interview aired at the summit Tuesday afternoon that the U.S. could face a surge in cases this winter, driven by unvaccinated people and waning vaccine immunity, per ABC News.

By the numbers: 70.6% of adults have been fully vaccinated against the virus in the U.S., according to the CDC.

  • The U.S. confirmed an average of almost 83,500 new COVID-19 cases each day over the past week, up 14% on the previous week, according to CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
  • Fauci told CNBC infection numbers may need to fall to 3,300 a day in order for the U.S. to gain control over the coronavirus.

Threat level: "Obviously the people who are most vulnerable are the unvaccinated," Fauci said, according to ABC News.

  • "But when you have a virus as transmissible as Delta, in the context of waning immunity, that dynamic is going to negatively impact even the vaccinated people."

State of play: Federal regulators currently allow boosters only for people age 65 and older, those with pre-existing conditions and those who live or work in high-risk facilities.

What to watch: The Biden administration is expected to begin the process of expanding the booster authorization to all adults as early as this week, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

The bottom line: "Look what other countries are doing now about adopting a booster campaign virtually for everybody," Fauci noted to Reuters.

  • "I think if we do that, and we do it in earnest, I think by the spring we can have pretty good control of this ... endemicity means a lot more people get vaccinated, a lot more people get boosted, and although you don't eliminate or eradicate it, that infection is not dominating your life."

Go deeper

Updated Dec 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Dec 8, 2021 - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.

John Frank, author of Denver
24 hours ago - Axios Denver

Colorado reports Omicron spread and redoubles push for booster shots

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Omicron's arrival in Colorado and the approaching holidays are leading public health experts to redouble efforts to promote the COVID-19 vaccine.

Driving the news: The focus comes as the state confirmed for the first time Tuesday that it found low-level community spread of the Omicron variant in Boulder County based on wastewater surveillance.