Dr. Fauci Doesn’t Anticipate Major COVID Surge With Omicron BA.2 Subvariant

by Suzanne Halliburton
GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn’t believe that the newest COVID subvariant will cause a surge of cases. But don’t be shocked if numbers begin to swell.

At issue is the Omicron subvariant BA.2. Scientists initially dubbed it the “stealth virus.” And we know it’s far more contagious than the original Omicron, which started rocking the United States in December. Some estimates put BA.2 as 80 percent more transmissible than its nasty cousin.

4-1-1 on Fauci Predictions for Covid Surge

  • Fauci, top medical advisor to President Biden, doesn’t see new subvariant mushrooming into a major surge.
  • It’s estimated that BA.2 represents about 50 percent of new COVID cases.
  • Numbers have dropped dramatically.

Fauci believes case numbers will rise, but not significantly.

“I would not be surprised at all, if we do see somewhat of an uptick,” Fauci said this week at an event sponsored by the Washington Post. “I don’t really see, unless something changes dramatically, that there would be a major surge.”

Fauci said we’ll know fairly soon about a potential surge. He said it should happen “within the next week or so.”

On Tuesday, the United States recorded 25,459 new COVID cases. The number has remained fluid for most of March. But the numbers are nowhere near what the country experienced in late December and early January. That’s when Omicron made its presence known in a big way after families around the country celebrated the holidays. On Jan. 10, the number of cases swelled to about 1.4 million. That number dropped to about 47,000 on March 1. Here’s another positive sign. The CDC reported that hospital admissions for Covid of patients dropped 90 percent from January’s peak.

The Omicron case numbers dwarfed those caused by Delta. But Omicron was milder than Delta, although far more contagious. The sub-variant symptoms seem to be a lot like the original Omicron.

Here’s Why Fauci and Others Don’t See a New COVID Surge

Fauci said Americans should looks towards Great Britain for clues on how the sub-variant may impact us. He said the U.S. usually trails the United Kingdom by about three weeks.

But one reason Fauci and others believe this new COVID subvariant won’t cause a surge is because so many people are vaccinated and/or have natural immunity to Omicron.

CNBC interviewed Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. And he believes the country has moved into an endemic part of the pandemic. Mokdad said that the doubling time of BA.2 has slowed. He predicts the numbers will continue to fall. However, we could see another surge, but it will come next winter as immunity from the vaccines start to weaken.

“The pandemic phase of the virus is over in our opinion,” Mokdad said. “We are moving into an endemic phase.”

As cases drop, most cities and states are dropping mask mandates. However, there still is a mask mandate for travelers on airplanes, trains and buses through April 18.