Coronavirus: Fauci warns US faces major outbreak as many states see cases soar
America's highly praised infectious disease chief says US never really got coronavirus under control with looser lockdown rules than in Europe
The leading American scientist combating the coronavirus has issued a warning that the United States faces a further “major outbreak” if it does not bring infection rates under control.
Dr Anthony Fauci said there were some “very disturbing spikes” in several US states caused by a failure to carry out full lockdown measures and people ignoring social distancing guidelines.
Covid-19 is now rampant across much of the US with a near doubling in daily infections in the past fortnight to more than 50,000 per day.
The disease possibly spread after nationwide protests in America against the lockdown rules, anti-racist demonstrations and young people congregating in large numbers.
Dr Fauci, 79, renowned for his expertise during the crisis, said that the US had “never really got it under control” with only 50 per cent lockdown whereas European countries had implemented as much as 97 per cent compared with normal activity.
“We are seeing very disturbing spikes in different individual states in the US … way beyond the worst spikes that we have seen,” he told the BBC. “That is not good news. We have got to get it under control or we risk an even greater outbreak in US.”
It was “a serious situation” and the US “got hit very bad”, warned the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Young asymptomatic adults were potentially acting as deadly superspreaders by ignoring social distancing rules. Dr Fauci said young people had to realise they were part of a “dynamic process of propagating an outbreak because if you are infected it is likely you will infect someone else, who will infect someone else who will infect a vulnerable person”, which could lead to their death.
He added: “You just have to take a look at the news at night and see people congregating in bars without masks in groups well beyond recommended numbers.”
Globally the infection rate is picking up with almost 200,000 diagnosed with Covid-19 on July 1. Earlier this week Dr Fauci gave a warning that the US could see 100,000 infections per day. America has recorded 130,000 deaths and 2.8 million people have contracted the virus.
While Dr Fauci has been praised as a national hero for giving reliable information his disagreements with President Donald Trump have led to death threats from right-wing groups. “Fire Fauci” has also been shouted by anti-lockdown protesters in states that are now suffering spikes, including Florida, Arizona and Texas.
With a vaccine the only way of fully combating the disease and preventing further worldwide economic meltdown, billions of dollars is being spent on research. While Dr Fauci praised Oxford University’s progress by starting Phase 3 vaccine trials on humans in Brazil and southern Africa, he said the key was not to be in the lead but “having a vaccine that works”.
“Yes, Oxford are leading way,” he said. “I would love to see more than one vaccine get to the goal line. The world needs more than one vaccine and hopefully the UK one will be one of them.”
He also suggested that any American-developed vaccine should be “widely available” for the global population. He accepted that even with a Covid-19 vaccine there were large numbers in the US anti-vaccine movement who would refuse to have it.
Updated: July 2, 2020 03:57 PM