The United States is heading "in the wrong direction" on the coronavirus pandemic as virus cases driven by unvaccinated people continue to surge, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert has warned.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was "very frustrated" by the slump in vaccine uptake, with Delta variant of COVID-19 driving the spike in areas with low vaccination rates.
He said the coronavirus situation in the US is becoming "a pandemic among the unvaccinated Americans."
“We have 50 percent of the country not fully vaccinated. That’s a problem, particularly when you have a variant, like Delta, which has this extraordinary characteristic of being able to spread very efficiently and very easily from person to person,” Fauci noted.
US daily coronavirus infections rise again after numbers fell in May and June. The seven-day average of new COVID cases in the US was up 53 percent over the previous week.
The sharpest increases in COVID cases are in US states with lower vaccination rates, such as Florida, Texas and Missouri.
In southern US states, fewer than half of residents have received their first dose in some cases.
More than 34 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and over 615,000 deaths recorded so far in the US.
Fauci also said revising mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans is under active consideration.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had said people who are fully vaccinated can "resume activities that you did before the pandemic without wearing a mask".
Some local governments have reinstated indoor and public mask requirements to curb cases.
In Los Angeles County, masks are now required indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
“If you look at what’s going on locally in the trenches in places like LA County, the local officials have the discretion and the CDC agrees with that ability and discretion capability to say, ‘You know, you’re in a situation where we’re having a lot of dynamics of infection so even if you are vaccinated, you should wear a mask,'” Fauci explained.
Earlier this week, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said over 99% of COVID deaths occurred among unvaccinated people.
Fauci, who has served as the the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, through the pandemic, said offering booster jabs to vulnerable Americans was also under review.