If the U.S. does not get control over the community spread of the delta COVID variant, the nation will continue to see more variants that evade the protection of the vaccines, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the White House.
"That will happen, George, if we don't get good control over the community spread which is the reason why I and my colleagues keep saying and over again, it is very important to get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can," Fauci told anchor "GMA" George Stephanopoulos Thursday.
"People who say, 'I don't want to get vaccinated because it's me and I'll worry about me, I'm not having any impact on anybody else,' that's just not the case," Fauci said.
When the virus spreads through the unvaccinated population, as it is doing rapidly now in many states with low vaccination rates, it can mutate regardless of whether the person gets mild symptoms, or even no symptoms at all.
"And when you give it ample opportunity to mutate, you may sooner or later get another variant, and it is possible that that variant might be in some respects worse than the already very difficult variant we're dealing with now, which is a major reason why you want to completely suppress the circulation of the virus in the community," Fauci said.
More than 70% of the adult U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine and 60.7% of the adult U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Of all eligible Americans, meaning everyone over the age of 12, 67.9% have had at least one dose and 58.3% are fully vaccinated. But in some U.S. states, the vaccination rate is below the national average.
There are still about 93 million eligible Americans who have not gotten vaccinated.
Fauci warned in an interview with McClatchy on Wednesday that he thinks the virus's spread could increase to the point that the U.S. is reporting 100,000 to 200,000 new cases a day.