PhD. White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci has predicted that by December, COVID-19 will become “more endemic” in the U.S., meaning the coronavirus could be treated like the flu rather than a health emergency.
The coronavirus “is not going to be eradicated, it is not going to be eradicated,” Fauci said in an interview with NPR Tuesday . Instead, the White House’s top medical adviser said that COVID will be “something we can live with and won’t disturb us.” The end of the year will be before the end of President Joe Biden’s first term. After nearly two years of appearances in national media and COVID briefings, Fauci announced Monday that he would be stepping down from his 38-year post as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in December.
In May, Fauci said the U.S. was “out of the pandemic phase,” a claim some health experts called premature. Fauci quickly retracted his comments, saying the U.S. is still in a “transition phase” when it comes to COVID.
The U.S. has scaled back most of its COVID rules and recommendations. Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped recommending that Americans isolate when in close contact with a positive case, instead recommending daily testing and wearing a mask.
In December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention controversially changed its advice on how long Americans with COVID should quarantine. The agency said positive cases may stop isolating after five days, even if they are still showing symptoms, as long as they don’t have a fever. (Biden ignored these guidelines when he contracted COVID earlier this summer, opting instead to quarantine as long as he tested positive)
Other administrations are already prepared to treat COVID like any other endemic. The European Union declared an end to the coronavirus emergency in late April. Thailand will downgrade COVID in October from a “dangerous” disease to only “requires monitoring”, placing it on the same level as flu and dengue.
But Fauci told NPR that there is still a lot of work to be done to bring the new coronavirus to a manageable level, especially in terms of vaccination. Fauci said that if vaccination and boost rates increase, “by the end of the year, the virus will be low enough to not seriously disrupt our social order.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 67.4% of the U.S. population has received two doses of the vaccine, and only 32.6% have received a booster.
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