Dr. Anthony Fauci on April 27 sought to clarify remarks he made a day prior about the state of the COVID-19 situation in the United States.
Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on PBS on Tuesday that “we are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase.”
“Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now,” Fauci added. “So, if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are.”
After the remarks were widely reported, the doctor shifted his stance, as he has often done.
“I want to clarify one thing. I probably should have said the acute component of the pandemic phase. And I understand how that can lead to some misinterpretation,” Fauci said on an NPR podcast.
“I was talking about the acute fulminant phase. And everyone agrees we’re not there. We’re not 900,000 new infections a day. Is the pandemic still here? Absolutely.”
On the radio and while speaking with the other news outlets, Fauci portrayed the situation as evolving between a pandemic phase to an endemic one, but not having arrived yet.
“We are now transitioning—not there yet—but transitioning to more of an endemicity, where the level of infection is low enough that people are starting to live with the virus,” he said, adding to the Associated Press.
A dictionary of epidemiology defines a pandemic as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.” In contrast, an epidemic has been defined as “The occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behavior, or other health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy.”
The White House had pushed back on Fauci’s original comments, with press secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters in Washington that “COVID isn’t over and the pandemic isn’t over.”
“What Dr. Fauci was saying is that we are in a different phase of this pandemic, and that’s absolutely true,” she also said.
Before Fauci walked back his comments, Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said the United States is in an endemic phase.
Gandhi pointed to how three out of four children have recovered from COVID-19 and the high rate of vaccination, with approximately 83 percent of the population getting at least one dose.
Gandhi previously suggested how to manage COVID-19 once it became endemic, including investing in expanding access to treatments like Paxlovid, bolstering the tracking of vaccination and prior infection, and rescinding vaccine mandates.