Biden’s chief medical adviser and NIAID director Anthony Fauci said this week that the U.S. is now out of the “full-blown explosive pandemic phase” — more than two years after COVID-19 was first identified in the U.S.
The big picture: Fauci, an ever-present government representative on cable news over the last two-plus years, has regularly given his predictions, expectations and analysis on the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a timeline of his remarks, consolidated for brevity’s sake.
March 15, 2020: Fauci says that the U.S. “should be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting” to COVID-19.
- “For a while, life is not going to be how it used to be in the United States,” he said. “We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”
March 29, 2020: Fauci warns that models suggest that coronavirus may infect millions of Americans and could kill 100,000–200,000 people.
April 2, 2020: Fauci urges all U.S. states to implement stay-at-home orders to curb the virus, standing in stark contrast to then-President Trump’s calls for “flexibility.”
April 12, 2020: Fauci says that “no one is going to deny” that lives could have been saved during the pandemic if Trump had put in place social distancing measures before March.
- “But it is what it is. We are where we are right now,” he added.
May 12, 2020: Fauci says unequivocally that the U.S. will “without a doubt” have more infections and deaths in the fall and winter if testing, contact tracing and social distancing measures are not ramped up.
June 6, 2020: Fauci says he’s “very concerned” about the protests that followed George Floyd’s death resulting in a surge in COVID-19 cases.
June 28, 2020: Fauci says that the efficacy of vaccinations and Americans’ opposition to the shots make herd immunity “unlikely.”
June 30, 2020: Fauci testifies that he would “not be surprised” if the U.S. begins to report as many as 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day.
- “I’m very concerned and not satisfied with what’s going on because we’re going in the wrong direction,” he said.
Sep. 11, 2020: Fauci warns that it’s unlikely that daily life in the U.S. will go back to normal by the end of 2020, saying pre-coronavirus conditions may not return until “well into 2021, maybe even toward the end of 2021.”
Oct. 9, 2020: Fauci says that there was “a superspreader event at the White House,” referring to the celebration in the White House’s Rose Garden for the introduction of then-Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Oct. 28, 2020: Fauci cautions that a COVID-19 vaccine will likely not be ready until at least January 2021. He adds that the U.S. is in a “bad position” after failing to keep case numbers low after summer.
Jan. 17, 2021: Fauci commends then-President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccines in 100 days as “absolutely … doable.”
Feb. 15, 2021: Fauci tells “Axios on HBO” that despite the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, emerging variants could pose a “stumbling block.”
- “You don’t want people to become complacent. We still have a long way to go,” he said.
May 20, 2021: Fauci pleads with Americans to get vaccinated against the virus, saying if 70% of Americans receive one dose of the vaccine by July 4, “there will be enough protection in the community that I really don’t foresee there being the risk of a surge.”
June 9, 2021: Fauci urges Americans to get vaccinated to halt the spread of the Delta variant.
- “We don’t want to let happen in the United States what is happening currently in the U.K., where you have a troublesome variant essentially taking over as the dominant variant.”
Aug. 4, 2021: Fauci fears that a deadlier strain than the one caused by Delta could be around the corner.
- “If another [variant] 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.
Aug. 12, 2021: Fauci predicts that it is “likely” that everyone will need a vaccine booster shot in the future.
Aug. 24, 2021: Fauci says that the U.S. could return to a “degree of normality” by spring of 2022 if more Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Sep. 9, 2021: Fauci tells Axios that Americans are getting infected with COVID-19 at 10 times the rate needed to end the pandemic.
- “The endgame is to suppress the virus. Right now, we’re still in pandemic mode, because we have 160,000 new infections a day. That’s not even modestly good control … which means it’s a public health threat,” he said.
Nov. 17, 2021: Fauci predicts that COVID-19 could reach endemic levels in the U.S. by 2022, but added that increased vaccinations are necessary to reach this.
Nov. 28, 2021: Fauci cautions that the Omicron variant will “inevitably” be found in the United States and urges the country ramps up precautionary measures, including vaccinations, to halt the spread.
- “If and when, and it’s going to be when, it comes here, hopefully we will be ready for it by enhancing our capabilities via vaccine, masking — all the things that we do, and should be doing,” Fauci says.
Dec. 19, 2021: Fauci predicts that the U.S. will see record numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks ahead due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
- “We are going to see a significant stress in some regions of the country on the hospital system, particularly in those areas where you have a low level of vaccination.”
Dec. 23, 2021: Fauci warns that large gatherings during the holiday season are unsafe even for fully vaccinated people due to the Omicron variant surge. Fully vaccinated families should be safe to attend smaller gatherings, he said.
Dec. 27, 2021: Fauci encourages a COVID vaccine requirement for domestic air travel in response to the Omicron variant. “When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” he said.
Dec. 29, 2021: Fauci cites preliminary data showing that “all indications point to a lesser severity of Omicron versus Delta” during a White House COVID-19 briefing.
Dec. 30, 2021: Fauci pleads with parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent “avoidable” hospitalization.
Jan. 23, 2022: Fauci says that he is “confident as you can be” that most U.S. states will reach a peak in Omicron coronavirus cases by mid-February.
Feb. 9, 2022: Fauci says that COVID-19 pandemic restrictions could end “soon” as he believes the virus will reach an “equilibrium.”
- Fauci also says that the U.S. is “certainly heading out” of a particularly difficult phase of the pandemic driven largely by Omicron.
March 18, 2022: Fauci is optimistic that the BA.2 Omicron variant will likely cause an uptick in cases, but not necessarily an increase in hospitalizations or deaths.
April 27, 2022: Fauci says now the U.S was out of a “full-blown explosive pandemic phase” and into a “transitional phase” that should lead to a “more controlled phase and endemicity.”
- However, he cautioned: “The world is still in a pandemic,” he told the Washington Post. “There’s no doubt about that. Don’t anybody get any misinterpretation of that. We are still experiencing a pandemic.”
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