Coronavirus infection rates in the United States are more than ten times higher than they need to be in order for the pandemic to end, says chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci.
"In a country of our size, you can't be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day. You've got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable," Fauci told Axios in an interview published on Thursday.
There are currently nearly 150,000 new infections a day in the US and according to Fauci, “That’s not even modestly good control.”
The high infection rates in the country, Fauci told Axios, mean "it's a public health threat." He added that "we're still in pandemic mode."
In August 2020, he told the Journal of the American Medical Association that cases needed to decrease below 10,000 per day. At the time, they hovered about 50,000, before they went up to a peak of almost 300,000 cases a day in January.
In March of this year, he warned against easing restrictions before cases went down to 10,000, “and maybe even considerably less than that”.
Even so, states went ahead with reopening plans, which Fauci called “inexplicable,” pointing to 10,000 cases or less as a benchmark for ending the pandemic.
In his interview with Axios, Fauci said that when enough people have gotten vaccinated, "you'll still get some people getting infected, but you're not going to have it as a public health threat."
As of Thursday, at least 73 percent of the US' eligible population has gotten at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, with 62.4 percent fully vaccinated. However, only 53 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated.
Fauci went on to say that while available vaccines have been effective, not enough people are interested in protecting against the delta variant.
He also warned that the longer the pandemic is allowed to continue, the higher the chances are that a "monster variant" that is stronger than the vaccines will happen.
“The endgame is to suppress the virus,” he told Axios.