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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

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Louisiana officials find "probable" Omicron case in cruise ship COVID outbreak — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy.
  4. World: U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Fauci: U.S. reevaluating African travel restrictions "daily"

Screenshot: CNN's "State of the Union."

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that the United States is reevaluating the travel restrictions from south African countries "on a daily basis."

Why it matters: Last week, the World Health Organization called on countries not to impose such travel bans in the wake of the Omicron variant, saying the restrictions "place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods."

Dec 5, 2021 - World

UK to require pre-departure negative COVID test amid Omicron fears

Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Photo: Tom Nicholson-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The United Kingdom on Saturday announced that all travelers would be required to submit a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight, regardless of vaccination status.

Why it matters: The move comes amid fears that the newly-identified Omicron variant possesses enough mutations to evade immune systems and drive up a new wave of infections.