Washington: The US may see a more deadly variant of Covid-19 than Delta, which may breach the protections provided by the current vaccines, as the country continues to be the worst-hit with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths, White House chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci has warned.
He said that Covid cases driven by the Delta variant are rising in a “very steep fashion” and “may double in the coming weeks to 200,000 cases a day”, McClatchy DC Bureau reported.
“When you look at the curve of acceleration of 7-day averages of cases per day, it is going up in a very steep fashion,” Fauci, who is also the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was quoted as saying.
The reason, Fauci stated, is that “we have about 93 million people in this country who are eligible to get vaccinated who don’t get vaccinated”.
Despite the Delta variant having a viral load “about 1,000 times higher in quantity” than the Alpha variant, “it can still get worse”, as it is given “ample opportunity to evolve further into a deadlier strain”.
“If we don’t crush the outbreak to the point of getting the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated, then what will happen is the virus will continue to smolder through the fall into the winter, giving it ample chance to get a variant,” said the US top infectious disease expert.
“There could be a variant that’s lingering out there that can push aside Delta.
“If another one comes along that has an equally high capability of transmitting but also is much more severe, then we could really be in trouble,” he said.
Urging people to get vaccinated, he said “people who are not getting vaccinated mistakenly think it’s only about them. But it isn’t. It’s about everybody else, also”.
Covid cases in the US surged by 43 per cent over last week, 94,000 a day on average, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The number of people in the hospital in the US has more than tripled over the past month, from an average of roughly 12,000 to almost 43,000, the CDC said.
Beside soaring infections, deaths per day have also shot up by 75 per cent in the past two weeks, climbing from an average of 244 to 426. The overall confirmed death toll stands at more than 614,000, the agency reported.
“Remember, just a couple of months ago, we were having about 10,000 cases a day,” he said. “I think you’re likely going to wind up somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 cases.”
Last month, Fauci stated that the US is “going in the wrong direction”, Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations continue to increase among the unvaccinated. The country has “a significant pool of vulnerable people”, he said.