WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is warning of “some pain and suffering in the future” as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Fauci, speaking on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, said he does not foresee more lockdowns in the U.S., but warned that the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic will continue to get worse because so many Americans are still unvaccinated. While this week the nation saw a surge in Americans getting the shot, as coronavirus cases rise driven largely by the more infectious delta variant, still only about 60 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.
Fauci argued that the unvaccinated are affecting others because they are “allowing the propagation and the spread of the outbreak,” and pushed back against critics who say whether to get the shot is an individual decision. Fauci said that those who choose not to get vaccinated are actually impacting the rights of Americans particularly prone to infection because they are “encroaching on their individual rights” by “making them vulnerable.”
Also Sunday, the director of the National Institutes of Health said federal guidance urging vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in communities of high COVID-19 spread is aimed at mostly protecting the unvaccinated and immunocompromised.
Dr. Francis Collins told CNN’s “State of the Union” that mask mandates can help as virus infections spike higher in parts of the U.S. because studies show vaccinated people can spread the virus to others.
But he emphasized that masks are no substitute for getting a shot, which work “extremely well” and reduce a person’s risk of serious illness and hospitalization by “25-fold,” including the delta variant.
Collins warned that right now the virus is “having a pretty big party in the middle of the country” but the silver lining is that more people are now getting the shot.
He said businesses may need to step up to require vaccinations, and that a case can be made for airlines to consider them as well for passengers. In recent days, Disney and Walmart have asked their employees to be vaccinated.