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Dr. Fauci said the unvaccinated should think of their 'community' because allowing COVID-19 to spread and mutate could create variant 'more problematic than the Delta'

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Dr. Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the continued and unmitigated spread of COVID-19 could lead to a more dangerous variant.

  • The Delta variant is currently driving a surge of COVID-19 cases in the US, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates.

  • But the continued spread of the disease without vaccinations or masking could allow it to further mutate, he said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Sunday called out to unvaccinated Americans, warning the continued spread of the virus among the unvaccinated could lead to a more serious disease.

"As we've said all along this is fundamentally a pandemic among the unvaccinated," Fauci said Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." "That is proven true."

"One of the problems of that is you don't want people to get sick and to get hospitalized and to die. That is happening now predominately - overwhelmingly - among the unvaccinated," he added.

Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said the virus would not have the opportunity to mutate if it were not allowed to spread and replicate in a community the way it is in areas in the US, particularly in southern states with low vaccination rates.

"If you allow the virus to freely circulate and not try to stop it, sooner or later you there is a likelihood you will get another variant that could - I'm not saying it will - that could be more problematic than the Delta," he said. "People who are unvaccinated should think about their own health, that of their family, but also the community responsibility to crush this virus before it gets even worse."

While vaccinated people can carry and spread the virus in what is known as "breakthrough infections," Fauci repeated Sunday that people largely driving the current surge were unvaccinated. The vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness and death even amid the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, he said.

"The good news is that almost invariably that will be an infection that is either without symptoms or minimally symptoms," he said of breakthrough cases. "That means the vaccines still protect extremely well against severe disease leading to hospitalization and death."

In the state of Alabama, which has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the US, only 26 out of more than 11,600 people who have died of COVID-19 in the state were vaccinated against the disease.

Fauci also Sunday explained why the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shifted its guidance earlier this month and recommended that fully vaccinated people mask up in areas of high COVID-19 transmission and in schools.

"Back when we were dealing with Alpha, the level of the virus was low in the nasal fairings," he said. "Now, we're finding the level of virus is really quite high, which means that even though you're protected, if you're infected you can transmit it to someone else."

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