COVID-19: No time to declare victory as there’s always risk of surge back up: US’ Dr Fauci

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Washington, Mar 14 (PTI) There is time to declare a victory in America’s fight against the coronavirus as there is always the risk of a surge back up, White House chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.

The US is going in the right direction, Fauci told Fox News in an interview.

“When you see a plateauing at a level of anywhere between 50,000 and 65,000 cases a day, that is absolutely no time to declare victory because we know from previous urges that we've had over the year that when you see that leveling off at a high level, there's always the risk of a surge back up,” he said.

“Unfortunately, that's exactly what is happening in Europe right now. They had the same kind of decline. They always seem to be a few weeks ahead of us in the dynamics of the outbreak. Then they plateaued because they pulled back a bit. They thought that they were home free and they weren't. And now they're seeing an increase up,” said the top medical doctor.

The United States has to avoid that, Fauci said.

“Every day we get more and more people vaccinated, which gets us closer and closer to a better protection. To pull back now prematurely would be ill-advised,” he said.

In a year, more than 534,000 Americans died from the virus. Now one in five Americans has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Of these, nearly three million people received vaccination on Saturday.

In his first prime-time address as president, Joe Biden on Thursday outlined an aggressive timeline for the vaccine, saying the US will have enough doses for every adult by the end of May. He said that to get back to normalcy by July 4.

Fauci, in another interview to CNN’s “State of the Union” programme, said that the recent developments in Europe, in particular Italy, is an issue of concern.

“Which is the reason why I and so many of my public health colleagues say that, although we are going in the right direction, and things look really quite bright, in the sense of positive thinking concerning the vaccines, which, every day, we get better and better with it. We have had three million doses going into people's arms just yesterday -- that we're going in the right direction,” he said.

Referring to the latest figures, Fauci said even though the numbers have gone down, over the last couple of weeks they have plateaued.

“When you see a plateau at a level as high as 60,000 cases a day, that is a very vulnerable time to have a surge to go back up. That's what exactly happened in Europe,” he said.

“They had a diminution of cases, they plateaued, and they pulled back on public health measures. You see the pictures in the paper and on TV. They have opened the restaurants. They have opened some of the bars. The younger people particularly stopped wearing masks, and then, all of a sudden, you have a surge that went right back up. And that's where we are right now,” Fauci said.

America can avoid that, he said.

“We can avoid that if we continue to vaccinate people, get more and more protection without all of a sudden pulling back on public health measures. We will do that. We will gradually be able to pull them back.

“And if things go as we planned, just as the president said, by the time we get into the early summer, the Fourth of July weekend, we really will have a considerable degree of normality. But we don't want to let that escape from our grasp by being too precipitous in pulling back,” Fauci added. PTI LKJ CPS