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Anthony Fauci at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing in May. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans are now getting infected with COVID-19 at 10 times the rate needed to end the pandemic, which will persist until more people get vaccinated, NIAID director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.

Threat level: "The endgame is to suppress the virus. Right now, we're still in pandemic mode, because we have 160,000 new infections a day. That's not even modestly good control ... which means it's a public health threat."

  • "In a country of our size, you can't be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day. You've got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable," Fauci says.
  • Once enough people have been vaccinated, he adds, "you'll still get some people getting infected, but you're not going to have it as a public health threat."

Between the lines: Despite all of the buzz about the Mu variant, which appears to elude some protective properties of authorized vaccines and prior infections, the Delta variant continues to dominate in the U.S. and around the world.

  • The good news: Fauci says this means currently authorized vaccinations are still effective.
  • The bad news: Not enough Americans are taking measures against the Delta variant, which has already upped the stakes.
  • And, the longer it takes to end this pandemic phase, the bigger the chance we'll end up with a "monster variant" that not only eludes vaccines but also is dangerously transmissible.

Go deeper: The COVID vaccines are still the pandemic's endgame

Go deeper

19 hours ago - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.

20 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

19 hours ago - Health

Biden to get booster shot on camera

Photo: Saul Loeb/ AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will receive his COVID booster shot on camera once it's fully approved for Americans ages 65 and older, the White House said Monday.

Why it matters: A federal advisory panel unanimously voted last week to recommend that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) authorize a third dose of Pfizer's vaccine for people over the age of 65 and those at higher risk of infection.