Fauci sees the US acquire management of the pandemic by subsequent fall. From Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to the media in Sacramento
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The leading U.S. specialist in infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday he expects America to gain sufficient collective COVID-19 immunity through vaccinations to regain “a semblance of normality” despite early setbacks in the fall of 2021 vaccine rollout.
Fauci’s remarks came during an online discussion of the pandemic with California Governor Gavin Newsom, who initially announced that a highly infectious coronavirus variant originally found in the UK had been reported the day after the first known U.S. If discovered in Colorado in his state.
Newsom said coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 was confirmed in a patient in Southern California earlier in the day. He did not provide any further details.
Fauci said he was “not surprised”, adding that more cases of the variant were likely to crop up across the country and that the mutant nature of such viruses was normal.
“You live on mutation. The more you mutate, the more you replicate,” he said, saying the vast majority of mutations are “irrelevant.” But he added, “It appears that this particular mutation improves the transmission of the virus from one person to another.”
Individuals infected with previous forms of SAR-CoV-2 “do not appear to be re-infected,” Fauci said, meaning that any immunity acquired from the coronavirus “protects against this particular strain.”
He also stressed that the so-called UK variant is unlikely to be more severe in terms of the symptoms it causes and has no particular ability to evade the antibodies induced by the newly approved COVID-19 vaccines currently being im Sales are.
However, the prospect of tackling a more contagious form of the virus is that the pandemic has been largely out of control in much of the country for weeks. California, the most populous state in the United States, has become the latest hot spot in the crisis.
“We will pick up”
Medical experts attribute the increased contagion to the arrival of colder weather and the failure of many Americans to heed public health warnings to avoid social gatherings and unnecessary travel during the year-end holiday season.
The result has been an alarming increase in infections and hospitalizations that have pushed the country’s health systems to their limits, as well as a steadily rising death toll that to date has exceeded 338,000 deaths nationwide.
In addition to boosting daily social life in America, the pandemic has stifled the economy and left millions of workers idle in a number of workers not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden warned that it could take years to vaccinate most Americans as the initial vaccine distribution rate fell far short of the promises made by the Trump administration. He asked Congress to approve more funding for the company.
In his comments on Wednesday, Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases and advisor to Biden, said he was confident that early glitches in the vaccination campaign would be overcome.
“As we get into January, we feel like we’re going to gain momentum to catch up,” he told Newsom, expecting to hit the vaccine’s ‘open season’, with vaccinations being available to the general public will be generally available on request through April.
Assuming the full vaccination campaign goes as it should through May, June and July, “By early fall we will have enough herd immunity to really go back to a strong semblance of normality – schools.” , Theaters, sporting events, restaurants, “said Fauci.
However, the appearance of a more highly transmissible variant of the virus could make the rapid introduction of immunizations all the more critical.
The first US case of the British variant was announced on Tuesday by Colorado Governor Jared Polis. At a news conference on Wednesday, Polis described the infected patient as a National Guard soldier in his twenties assigned to help with a COVID outbreak at a nursing home in semi-rural Elbert County on the outskirts of the Denver metropolitan area.
The director of the Colorado Public Health and Environment Department told reporters that a second member of the National Guard may also have signed the British variant, although final approval from the laboratory is pending.
The new variant was discovered in several European countries as well as in Canada, Australia, India, South Korea and Japan.
The U.S. government began on Monday requiring all passengers arriving from the UK – including U.S. citizens – to take a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.
The government could expand coronavirus testing requirements for international air travelers outside the UK as early as next week, sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
(Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York, Rich McKay in Atlanta, Keith Coffman in Denver, and David Shepardson in Washington; editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)