Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser, clarified his comments made Tuesday — that the Omicron variant will “ultimately find just about everybody” — during a COVID-19 response press briefing on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Fauci told J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that the “unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility” with the Omicron variant will “ultimately find just about everybody,” including people who are vaccinated and boosted.
Fauci reiterated that fact during a COVID-19 response briefing Wednesday. But he made it clear that he doesn’t anticipate most Americans will get sick with the Omicron variant, especially those who are vaccinated and boosted, but expects higher rates of exposure.
Fauci pointed out there there is an “extraordinary effect and dichotomy” between vaccinated and boosted people who get infected with the Omicron and their protection against hospitalization and death. Pointing to a Kaiser Permanente study cited by the CDC, Fauci said that research shows that the Omicron variant’s severity is significantly less with people who are vaccinated and boosted.
Fauci then offered a preview of what a COVID-19 endemic would look like in the country, when Omicron infections “peak” and ultimately decrease.
“We’re not going to eradicate this — we’ve only done that with smallpox,” he said, adding that the U.S. won’t be able to eliminate COVID, “that only happens with massive vaccination programs like we did with measles,” he said, a likely nod at officials’ frustration with the politicization and divisiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.
Fauci added that COVID-19 will ultimately be controlled and that soon “we begin to live with it” if cases are at a low level and most people are vaccinated and boosted.
“Virtually everyone is going to wind up getting exposed and likely get infected, but if you’re vaccinated and if you’re boosted, the chance of you getting sick are very, very low,” Fauci said.