Dr. Anthony Fauci returned to lead the White House’s public messaging on COVID-19 this week after his own battle with the disease — urging Americans to again wear masks and get boosted amid the threat of waning immunity against surging new variants.
The administration’s 81-year-old chief medical adviser has been lying low since testing positive in mid-June.
Now recovered, the quadruple-vaccinated infectious disease expert gave a series of interviews Tuesday to warn of surging cases sparked by the latest Omicron variant, BA.5 — and caution Americans that even those recently recovered from an infection are likely still at risk.
“The threat to you is now,” Fauci warned during a White House briefing Tuesday.
“Immunity wanes, whether that’s immunity following infection or immunity following vaccine.
“If you were infected with BA.1, you really don’t have a lot of good protection against BA.4/5,” he warned of the latest two Omicron strains that account for more than 80% of circulating variants last week.
“We should not let it disrupt our lives,” he said, “but we cannot deny that it is a reality that we need to deal with.”
During an interview with MSNBC, Fauci singled out “the New York area” as where “you’re starting to see cases go up.”
“It’s something we absolutely need to take seriously. It has a transmission advantage over the prior variants that were dominant,” he insisted of the new variant, which makes up a majority of cases.
“Everyone wants to put this pandemic behind us, and feel and hope that it doesn’t exist — it does.
“However, the good news is we have the capability and the tools to address it, and we just need to utilize those tools,” he told the network.
That includes getting vaccinated and boosted — even for those who have recently recovered from an infection — as well as wearing masks when in crowded indoor settings, he told MSNBC.
“We’re not talking mandating anything,” he insisted, saying his team was only “recommending people when they are in indoor congregate settings to wear a mask.”
“Those are simple, doable things that can help prevent us from having even more of a problem than we’re having right now,” he said.
Since April, the US has seen a doubling in the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, deaths remain steady, at around 300 per day.
“Staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines provides the best protection against severe outcomes,” Walensky insisted.
That is particularly important for older Americans, the experts stressed.
“If you’re over 50 and you haven’t gotten the shot this year, you should go get a shot,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. “It’s going to save your life.”
With Post wires