On Saturday, after Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that if the United States were to experience a major increase in cases of COVID-19 variants, especially one that might increase hospitalizations, restrictions on the public may be reinstated, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted, “Hell no! For petty tyrants like Fauci, their only tool is authoritarianism. Enough already!”
Fauci was speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who asked, “What is your take on this BA2 variant?”
“It has a little bit more transmissibility than the initial Omicron, but it does not have a multifold advantage, so it’s about 50 to 60 percent more transmissible overall, which means over time, if nothing changes, it will take over as the major variant. It has an increased transmission capability worldwide, with 80-plus percent in the world and 85 percent in the United States. It is still somewhere around 30% in the United States. So it does have an improved transmission capacity.”
“However, when you take a look at the cases, they do not seem to be any more severe or to evade immune responses, whether from vaccines or prior infections. So in the end, we will see an increase in instances as we’ve seen in European countries such as the U.K., where that have had the same problem as we have now; they have a BA2 and certain restrictions are being relaxed, such as indoor masking and immunity is waning. I think we won’t see a surge. I don’t believe it will happen. The simplest method to avoid that is to continue to immunize people and have those who have been vaccinated boosted. That’s where we’re at right now; yes, an increase is expected.”
“I think we’ve seen a loosening of restrictions all across the country right now. Is there any reason to reverse it?” Stephanopoulos inquired.
“No, George, not right now,” Fauci said. “I don’t see us going back into any more stringent limits.” Then he added, “But you always need to be flexible: remember the CDC’s proposed adjustments to their measurement criteria that would have resulted in a list of which states or counties should use masks indoors? They actually made it clear that if we see a significant increase in restrictions, especially one that might result in more hospitalizations, and they have to be prepared to pivot and maybe reinstitute some of those limitations.”
“I don’t see that at the moment,” he added. “We just can’t stay put; particularly as cases appear to be on a somewhat downward trend, deaths continue to decrease, and hospitalizations increase. That is not the time to declare victory given that this virus has fooled us before, and we must be ready for the potential of another variant appearing. And we don’t want to get caught off-guard when it happens again.”