Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the US, has warned it is too early to declare victory against Covid-19 as cases fall in the country to the lowest rates since last June.
“We don’t want to declare victory prematurely because we still have a ways to go,” Fauci told the Guardian in an interview. “But the more and more people that can get vaccinated, as a community, the community will be safer and safer.”
The Memorial Holiday weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in the US, and for the at least 50% of the adult population that is fully vaccinated, it could usher in a season of maskless barbecues and trips to the beach.
Daily coronavirus cases have dropped 53% since 1 May, according to Johns Hopkins University data, but the rates are still high in the unvaccinated population and cases are growing globally. Already there have been more global cases in 2021 than in all of 2020, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
“As long as there is some degree of activity throughout the world, there’s always a danger of variants emerging and diminishing somewhat the effectiveness of our vaccines,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid).
The US has been under pressure to provide greater aid in global vaccine efforts and has in recent weeks committed to donate 80m vaccines in addition to the $4bn donation its pledged to Covax, the global vaccine-sharing scheme. Fauci said more help could be on the way.
“We are discussing right now at various levels about how we might be able to up production to get vaccine doses from the companies that are already making them for us, get more doses that will be able to be distributed to lower- and middle-income countries,” Fauci said.
At the same time, the US must address the issues stopping its people from getting vaccinated. Part of this group is strongly opposed to the vaccine but there is also a portion of the unvaccinated population that hasn’t been able to get the shot because of lack of access to information or transportation or concerns about missing work because paid sick leave is not guaranteed in the US.
Author: Amanda Holpuch