Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, said on Sunday that the U.S. is in a “much better” place in the pandemic compared to a year ago but stressed it is not completely over.
“I don’t like reading in the newspapers or getting my report from the COVID team: today we lost 400 people, today we lost 350 people,” Fauci said during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “So it’s much, much better than it was, but it is not at a level low enough where we should feel we’re done with it completely, because we’re not.”
Fauci plans to step down from his government roles next month, including his post at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Fauci has led for 38 years.
On Sunday, moderator Margaret Brennan noted that Fauci a year ago indicated on the show that he would feel comfortable retiring once COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror and doesn’t dominate the mental framework of society.
Fauci responded by noting that the current case and death rates are dramatically lower than one year ago, when the omicron variant began to surge.
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“That is much, much better than we were a year ago,” Fauci said on CBS. “But if you look at it in a vacuum, it’s still not a great place to be.”
The White House last week launched a new push for people to receive their COVID-19 booster shots as officials struggle to increase uptake.
About 12 percent of people aged 5 and older have received a dose of the updated vaccines that target recent variants, according to federal data.
“I think it’s a combination of an expansion and an amplification of the anti-science, anti-vax,” Fauci said of the low uptake. “There is something I’ve never seen in my 54 years in medicine at the [National Institutes of Health], is that the acceptance or not of a life-saving intervention is steered very heavily by your political ideology.”