Chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci on Monday warned that the U.S. should not ease up on its COVID-19 response as variants continue to circulate and as the country heads into the winter flu season.
“We have a ways to go, particularly as we enter the winter, which will be complicated by the influenza season. So there’s no time, ma’am, to let down our guard right now, for certain,” Fauci told “CNN Newsroom” host Pamela Brown.
Fauci forewarned of a possible “twin-demic” with simultaneous COVID and flu surges.
“As we get into the colder months, where any respiratory disease, COVID or anything else, always has the risk of an uptick as you enter into the late fall/winter months… Influenza is a problem,” he said, noting that Australia, which has its winter flu season during the U.S. summer months, “had a particularly bad flu season this year.”
Fauci’s comments come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would switch its COVID-19 case reporting from daily to weekly in an effort to alleviate reporting burdens on state and local governments.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert said the CDC’s move doesn’t signal a shift away from the importance of getting Americans vaccinated and pushing out the new bivalent vaccine, which targets the Omicron variant.
“We’re not going to eradicate this virus… We likely won’t even eliminate it,” Fauci said. He cited the eradicated smallpox virus, which doesn’t change like COVID-19, as well as eliminated viruses like measles and polio, which afford decades-long immunity if infected or vaccinated.
COVID-19’s variations and limited immunity after infection or vaccination likely means the virus will endure
“I think if you’re saying, are we done with COVID? The answer is going to be no,” Fauci said on CNN.
“We may deal with it at a much, much lower level than we’re dealing with it right now, which is what I would accept as being something that would be OK as long as we get to a much lower level than we are right now,” he added, noting that the CDC still reports a daily average of more than 300 deaths from the virus.