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Although we may be "turning a corner" on the latest coronavirus surge—cases are down 22% versus last month—this is no time to let your guard down, warns Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He appeared on CNN's At This Hour with Kate Bolduan to issue strong words about the virus, and also to clarify his comments about gatherings this Christmas holiday. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Dr. Fauci Warned There are Still Too Many People Unvaccinated and New Variants May Arise as Long as That is So
"I don't think we're going to be—at least in the near future—completely rid of COVID-19 for a number of reasons," said Dr. Fauci. "One, the fact is we still have a rather substantial number, 70 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated or not vaccinated in this country, but then there's the rest of the world. As long as you have circulating virus in those other countries, many countries that don't have the resources that we do, then you have the danger of there being new variants. That'll come in. And that's one of the reasons why we say, and it's appropriate to say that the response to a global pandemic is a global response, not only within our own country. And we are working to get a lot of doses, many, many doses, literally hundreds of millions of doses, more than a billion to other countries, particularly low and middle income countries." Read on for a big BUT.
Dr. Fauci Had a Big "But"
"But," he added, "we are seeing a turnaround, as you mentioned correctly, diminution in cases, diminution and hospitalization deaths are still up, but that is usually a lagging indicator. And I fully expect if we keep going in the direction of a diminution in hospitalization, in cases that the deaths will start coming down."
"Not to diminish that," said Dr. Fauci of the possible turnaround, "is that we still have so many people who are not vaccinated, that we better be careful that we don't say we're out of the woods because we might not be out of the woods in the sense of no more, no more COVID around at all."
Dr. Fauci Clarified His Remarks About Christmas, Which He Says Were Taken "Out of Context" and "Nonsense"
Fauci appeared on a Sunday morning news show saying it was too early to know if Christmas gatherings would be safe. "I also said something over the weekend that was taken completely out of context. I was asked, what could we predict for this winter, for like December and Christmas? Yeah, I mean, I say you hold off on that. I said, we don't know because we've seen slopes that went down and then came back up. The best way to assure that we'll be in good shape as we get into the winter would be to get more and more people vaccinated. That was misinterpreted as my saying, 'We can't spend Christmas with our families,' which was absolutely not the case. I will be spending Christmas with my family. I encourage people, particularly the vaccinated people who are protected, to have a good normal Christmas with your family. But it's just the way all of the other just information goes around. You say something talking about a landmark of a time and it gets misinterpreted that I'm saying you can't spend family Christmas time, which is nonsense."
Dr. Fauci Reiterated it's Up to Us to Keep Ourselves Safe
Speaking more about his Christmas remarks, Fauci clarified: "I was asked to predict what the state of the pandemic would be when we get to December. And my response was that's really dependent on us. It's difficult to predict, but the one thing we do have within our power to do is to make sure that there are less and less cases and that diminishing slope that's going down continues to go down. And the way we can do that is by getting more and more people vaccinated. That was the point that I was making. Not that you're not going to be able to spend Christmas with your family. I certainly am. That's for sure."
Dr. Fauci is in Favor of Incentives and Mandates
Regarding incentives and mandates, Dr. Fauci said: "I think we need to do both. I'm very sensitive and aware to the reasons people push back on mandates. It's an unusual thing. It's not something that you're going to want to keep doing, telling people what to do, but there comes a time when you're dealing, whether you are unusual and likely very, very unique situation of living through a historic pandemic. Sometimes you have to do things that look more towards the societal impact than your own individual, feeling about somebody telling you what to do or not. So I think we need to use incentives, but as you've just said, correctly, mandates do work. And sometimes people just need a little bit of a push to do something for their own benefit for that of their family, but also for the benefit of society. So we'd like to not have to do mandates at the local level with schools, universities, places of business, government, et cetera. But sometimes you have to do that." Get vaccinated, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.