The COVID-19 pandemic will remain "a public health threat" until more people get vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Fauci, the White House's top medical adviser, told Axios that Americans are getting infected with COVID at 10 times the rate needed to end the pandemic.
"The endgame is to suppress the virus. Right now, we're still in pandemic mode, because we have 160,000 new infections a day," Fauci told Axios. "That's not even modestly good control ... which means it's a public health threat.
"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."
He added that once enough people get vaccinated, "you'll still get some people getting infected, but you're not going to have it as a public health threat."
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said currently authorized vaccinations remain effective, even as the delta variant surges.
However, with too many Americans not getting vaccinated, the risk increases of a "monster variant" that eludes vaccines and is dangerously transmissible, Fauci said.
Although the Mu variant appears to elude protection offered by authorized vaccines and prior infections, delta variant continues to dominate globally, Axios said.
About 400,000 COVID-19 infections were recorded for all of June. It took all of three days last week to reach the same number, The Associated Press reported.
"It felt like we had this forward, positive momentum," Katie Button, executive chief and CEO at two restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina, told AP. "The delta variant wiped that timeline completely away."
The White House said President Joe Biden on Thursday will present a six-pronged strategy aimed at fighting the spread of the Delta variant and increasing U.S. COVID vaccinations.
Vaccine developer Novavax said Wednesday it has initiated an early-stage study to test its combined flu and COVID-19 vaccine.
The trial, to be conducted in Australia, will enroll 640 healthy adults between the ages of 50 and 70 years and who either previously have been infected with coronavirus or given an authorized COVID vaccine at least eight weeks before the study.
Reuters contributed to this story.
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