We must assume that COVID will get worse, says Fauci

We must assume that COVID will get worse, says Fauci

The U.S. won’t come close to vaccinating 20 million people by Jan. 1, as many experts had forecast, but Dr. Anthony Fauci believes “an increase in momentum” next month will help the nation draw closer to rollout estimates. But Fauci, in an interview on CNN, said another surge coming off the holidays means “we just have to assume (the pandemic) is going to get worse.”

When the first virus vaccines won emergency authorization this month, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar estimated that 20 million people – mostly healthcare workers – could be vaccinated by year’s end. The rate would then jump in early 2021 as more vaccines rolled out, Azar and other experts said.

So far, the numbers are far below expectations. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, acknowledged Tuesday that only a few million vaccinations have taken place thus far.

“I believe that, as we get into January, we are going to see an increase in momentum” that allows the nation to catch up to the planned rollout, Fauci said on CNN. He said he still hopes that by spring or summer “anybody and everybody who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated.”

With many testing centers closed for the holidays, the U.S. conducted 1.5 million fewer COVID-19 tests in the week ending Monday than it did in the previous week, a USA TODAY analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. 

In all, 42 states reported less testing. In hard-hit Tennessee, the total number of tests was barely more than half of what it was a week earlier. But the rate of those positive tests increased from about 19.2% to 21.4%. On the other side of the scale, Washington state increased testing by a third from a week earlier, but its rate of positive tests increased anyway.