“I don’t think we’re going to see lockdowns. I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country — not enough to crush the outbreak — but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter,” said Fauci, who is also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“But things are going to get worse,” he warned, noting the accelerating rise of new cases and seven-day averages.
The resumption of normal activities, lifting of protective measures, gathering of people and traveling for summer holidays, mixed with vaccine hesitancy, have led to a surge in infections of the highly transmissible delta variant, along with a rise in the number of hospitalizations and deaths nationwide.
In the past week in the United States, new daily reported cases increased by 55 percent, new daily reported deaths by 29 percent and hospitalizations by 42 percent, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.
Last week, the United States reported more than 100,000 daily cases, a number not seen since February.
Fauci’s comments come after new information emerged last week that shows the delta variant appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox, according to an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document.
The document says that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated, and that vaccinated people infected with the variant have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant.
Also last week, the CDC revised its policy on wearing masks and is now urging vaccinated Americans to wear face coverings indoors, in some circumstances.
While acknowledging the dangers of the new outbreak, Fauci remained optimistic about avoiding stricter measures including shutdowns.
“We are looking not I believe to lockdowns, but we are looking to some pain and suffering in the future because we are seeing the cases go up,” he said.
Fauci reiterated the importance of vaccinations in stemming the spread of the coronavirus, which can cause the disease covid-19, and he said those who refuse to get inoculated are responsible for the recent spread of the delta variant.
“We have 100 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not getting vaccinated. We are seeing an outbreak of the unvaccinated,” he told “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl.
Fauci said unvaccinated people have a much higher chance of becoming infected and are vulnerable to getting severe illness that could lead to hospitalization and in some cases death.
“Which is the reason we keep saying over and over, the solution to this is get vaccinated and this would not be happening,” he added.
Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, joined Fauci’s plea for more Americans to get vaccinated.
“If you haven’t yet gotten vaccinated, the evidence is overwhelming,” Collins said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.” “Let’s get off the fence, move forward and be part of the winning team that gets this delta out of here.”
Collins also addressed frustration toward the CDC’s new guidelines for universal mask-wearing in K-12 schools, where the agency said masks should be worn by teachers, staff members, students and visitors.
“I know it’s tiresome and parents and kids are sick of it, but we are talking about life and death here,” he said.
In Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has firmly opposed mandates for vaccines and masks, saying people should have the right to make the decision by themselves, coronavirus cases have surged through the state, turning it into the new epicenter of the U.S. pandemic.
CDC data released Saturday showed that the state reported its highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, with 21,683 new cases on Friday.
The data shows that the surge in Florida is now responsible for 1 in 5 new infections nationally.
Like DeSantis, Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona have pushed back against mask and vaccination mandates. Fauci said that he “respectfully disagrees” with them and that those who do not get vaccinated are hurting other people and spreading the virus, which, he said, ultimately “impacts everyone in the country.”
“So, in essence, you are encroaching on their individual rights because you’re making them vulnerable. So you could argue that situation both ways,” he added.