DR Anthony Fauci warned that life won’t return to normal until fall of next year as a mutant strain of Covid-19 is set to sweep the US.
Fauci participated in an online discussion of the pandemic with California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday and acknowledged the highly contagious strain had emerged in CA and Colorado.
Fauci – who recently received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine – noted that if the United States "diligently vaccinate[s]" people next year, the country could resume some sense of normality come autumn.
He said herd immunity may be achieved if about 70 to 85 percent of the population gets the touted vaccine by then.
The top doc said: "By the time we get to the early fall, we will have enough good herd immunity to be able to really get back to some strong semblance of normality – schools, theaters, sports events, restaurants.
"I believe if we do it correctly, we will be there by the early fall," Fauci said, before urging people to get vaccinated."
Fauci also said he was "not surprised" that new contagious strain of the virus first found in the UK was detected in CA and pointed out that there were "likely more cases" there.
Newsom announced coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 was detected in a Southern California patient a day after the first known case of it on US soil emerged in Colorado.
California Department of Public Health said the San Diego County patient has no known travel history, which would suggest that the variant emerged within the community.
"The transmissibility of this mutant is more efficient than the transmissibility of the standard virus that we've been dealing with up to now," said Fauci told Newsom. "Namely, it's able to bind to the receptors on cells better, and therefore it's transmitted better.
"It appears … this particular mutation does in fact, make the virus better at transmitting from one person to another."
But he noted that people who were previously infected by earlier forms of SARS-CoV-2 “don’t seem to get re-infected by this,” so immunity “is protective against this particular strain."
Researchers estimate the new strain is 50 percent to 70 percent more contagious as the push to vaccinate people ramps up.
On Thursday, Fauci told the Today Show it's "inevitable" that the new strain will spread across the US.
"We predicted it would be, when you have so much of it in the UK, which then spread to other countries in Europe and Canada, it was inevitable that it would be here," he said.
"You'll be hearing reports from other states and more cases in the state that is already reported. Unfortunately, that's just the reality of the way these viruses spread
"The good news is that it does not appear to be more virulent, namely, making people more sick and leading to more death."
The first reported US variant infection was identified on Wednesday as a Colorado National Guardsman who assisted a nursing home struggling with an outbreak and officials say a second guard may have contracted it too.
Yesterday, San Diego County officials said the infected person is a 30-year-old man
"The patient became symptomatic on the 27th. He was tested yesterday and the new strain was detected early (Wednesday)," said Eric McDonald, the county's medical director for epidemiology.
"Another person in the man's household was being tested."
Dr Greg Armstrong, who directs genetic sequencing at the CDC, said Massachusetts and Delaware are analyzing suspicious virus samples for the variant.
News of the mutant strain emerged as more than 19.7 million Americans have been infected since March with 229,042 of those infections recorded on Wednesday – the fifth highest number of single-day cases.
The number of hospitalizations surged to 125,220 on Wednesday, the Covid Tracking Project revealed, which marked the 29th consecutive day hospitalizations topped 100,000.
The CDC forecast that a whopping 383,000 to 424,000 Covid-related deaths will be reported by the end of the week on January 23, 2021.
This would mean that a shocking 82,000 Americans could die within the next month.
Meanwhile, the US has only administered less than 2.6million of the 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine it promised to give to Americans by the end of 2020.
Only about 10 percent of Americans got Moderna or Pfizer's jabs it was confirmed yesterday despite the fact the Operation Warp Speed distributed more than 12million doses to states and territories.
It was inevitable that it [the mutant strain] would be here
An FDA official told the Daily Mail that only around 230,000 Americans were getting the shots every day because officials failed to plan properly for the final logistical steps of its distribution.
"We agreed that the number is lower than what we hoped for," said co-chief of Operation Warp Speed Dr Moncef Slaoui yesterday.
"We know that it should be better and we are working hard to make it better."
Around 11.45 million doses have been distributed while the government allocated just under 20 million doses to be distributed by the end of next week.
Elsewhere, England is looking at a strict lockdown until the Spring with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also clamping down amid fears of thestrain, which accounts for 60 percent of all cases in London.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said: "There are plenty of reasons for people to be optimistic about the spring, but we must must focus on fighting the disease for now.'"
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