U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the CCP virus can become endemic—having a constant, manageable presence in a certain region or population—if more people take booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“To me, if you want to get to endemic, you have got to get the level of infection so low that it does not have an impact on society, on your life, on your economy,” Fauci said in an interview at the Reuters Total Health conference, which runs virtually Nov. 15–18. “People will still get infected. People might still get hospitalized, but the level would be so low that we don’t think about it all the time and it doesn’t influence what we do.”
Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said making booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone is vital for the nation to reach endemic levels of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, reported Reuters.
“Look what other countries are doing now about adopting a booster campaign virtually for everybody,” he added. “I think if we do that, and we do it in earnest, I think by the spring [of 2022] we can have pretty good control of this.”
He acknowledged that there are different views on what is considered as having the CCP virus under control, commenting: “You could control it at 50,000 cases a day. To me, that’s not good control, and that’s not endemicity that I would accept. … I don’t want to sit back when we have 70,000 to 85,000 new infections a day and say: ‘Oh, well, we can’t do any better than that. Let’s live with that.’ Sorry, that’s not where we want to be.”
The average national daily reported number of new cases is over 83,000 as of Nov. 15, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“For me, endemicity means a lot more people get vaccinated, a lot more people get boosted, and although you don’t eliminate or eradicate it, that infection is not dominating your life,” Fauci said.
He said booster shots can potentially increase antibodies to a protective level, although he pointed out that the CCP virus is “brand new,” and therefore, “we can’t predict.”
Separately, Fauci warned that the vaccines’ waning immunity alongside the more transmissible Delta variant—representing nearly all cases in the United States—would be a “double whammy” that could affect “even the vaccinated people,” reported ABC News.
“You’re going to see breakthrough infections, even more so than we see now among the vaccinated,” Fauci said in a prerecorded interview aired at the 2021 STAT Summit Tuesday afternoon, the outlet reported.
He also said that booster doses may become the standard for a “full” vaccination.
“I happen to believe as an immunologist and infectious disease person, that a third shot boost for an mRNA is likely—should be part of the actual standard regimen, where a booster isn’t a luxury; a booster isn’t an add on; and a booster is part of what the original regimen should be—so that when we look back on this, we’re going to see that boosters are essential for an optimal vaccine regimen,” Fauci said.
Other countries, including Israel and Bahrain, have been offering boosters to a broad population. Citizens of both countries now risk losing their vaccination status granting them access to certain venues if they do not receive their booster doses.
Officials from at least seven U.S. states have expanded booster shot eligibility to all adults—going beyond current CDC recommendations that say that booster shots apply to those aged 65 or older, or people aged 18 or older with underlying medical conditions or are often in high-risk settings.
As of Tuesday, about 30.7 million people in the United States have received a COVID-19 booster shot.
Last week, Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization for booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine for all adults. The FDA has yet to make a determination.
Pfizer previously said that its COVID-19 vaccine efficacy drops over time and insisted that booster doses would be effective at dealing with new CCP virus variants.
In late October, the chairman of Moderna said that yearly COVID-19 vaccine boosters may be required in the future if the disease becomes endemic.