Despite President Joe Biden saying the "pandemic is over," Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. is not where it needs to be regarding COVID-19.
Fauci's comments came during a talk with the Center for Strategic & International Studies on Monday. He said the battle against COVID-19 comes down the issue of how the U.S. is prepared to fight new variants of the virus.
"How we respond and how we're prepared for the evolution of these variants is going to depend on us," he said. "And that gets to the other conflicting aspect of this — is the lack of a uniform acceptance of the interventions that are available to us in this country where even now, more than two years, close to three years, into the outbreak, we have only 67% of our population vaccinated and only one-half of those have received a single boost.
"We are much better off now … but we are not where we need to be if we're going to be able to, quote, 'live with the virus,' because we know we're not going to eradicate it. We only did that with one virus, which is smallpox, and that was very different because smallpox doesn't change from year to year, or decade to decade, or even from century to century.
"And we have vaccines and infection that imparts immunity that lasts for decades and possibly lifetime."
But he added: "As bad as things have occurred – and what we've experienced – they would have been much, much worse, had it not been for the unprecedented speed with which science was translated into an actual intervention in the form of highly effective vaccines to prevent predominantly severe disease."
Fauci's remarks came one day after an interview with Biden aired on CBS's "60 Minutes. Biden said: "The pandemic is over."
"We still have a problem with COVID," he said. "We're still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one's wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it's changing."
Fauci is the nation's top infectious disease expert and serves as Biden's chief COVID-19 adviser.
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