Washington, Nov 22: With the holiday season approaching in the US, the country is running out of time to prevent the "dangerous" new surge of Covid-19 cases, warned chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, even as he asked the fully vaccinated to ditch masks.
The US is seeing a fresh surge in Covid infections, with cases approaching 100,000 per day for the first time in weeks.
Experts fear that the Thanksgiving holiday this week, when millions of Americans will gather for indoor celebrations with family and friends, will fuel a further surge, the Guardian reported.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was not too late to avoid a significant worsening of Covid rates leading up to Christmas and New Year. If adults get fully vaccinated as well as take booster shots, and also vaccinate children aged five to 11, it may help to subdue the virus.
"We still have about 60 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not been, and that results in the dynamic of virus in the community that not only is dangerous and makes people who are unvaccinated vulnerable, but it also spills over into the vaccinated people," Fauci was quoted as saying on CNN on Sunday.
"We have a lot of virus circulating around. You can't walk away from the data, and the data show that the cases are starting to go up, which is not unexpected when you get into a winter season. People start to go indoors more and we know that immunity does wane over time.
"The bottom line is get vaccinated if you're not vaccinated, and boostered if you have been vaccinated. Since we can vaccinate children from five to 11, you start vaccinating them now [and] they will be fully vaccinated by the time we get to the Christmas holidays," he said.
In the last two weeks, the daily average of new cases in the US has risen 29 per cent, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
Meanwhile the 2021 US death toll from Covid has also surpassed that of 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Data published Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that nearly 196 million people, or 59 per cent of the total US population is fully vaccinated. But about 26.6 per cent of the eligible population, or 83 million people, have yet to receive a first dose.
Meanwhile, Fauci also stated that if people are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, they can ditch their masks this holiday season.
"That's what I'm going to do with my family," Fauci was quoted as saying to CNN.
However, the nation's top infectious disease expert also noted if you are travelling or are unaware of the vaccination status of the people around you, then you should wear a mask in those situations.
While vaccine manufacturers have suggested that annual boosters might be necessary to keep Covid-19 at bay, Fauci said it's still unclear if boosters will be needed annually.
"We would hope, and this is something that we're looking at very carefully, that that third shot with the mRNA (vaccine) not only boosts you way up, but increases the durability so that you will not necessarily need it every six months, or a year," he was quoted as saying on ABC News.
"We're hoping it pushes it out more. If it doesn't and the data show we do need it more often then we'll do it."
As of Monday morning, the US continued to be the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 47,730,591 and 771,118, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.