Fauci Warns Americans Could Face More Lockdowns Due to New COVID-19 Variant

by Allison Hambrick
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci listens during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the press briefing room of the White House on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump signed the H.R. 748, the CARES Act on Friday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the $2 trillion stimulus bill that lawmakers hope will battle the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, cautioned that more COVID-related lockdowns are on the horizon for Americans. He explained that the BA.2 variant means that case numbers for COVID-19 are likely to climb.

At a Glance

  • Dr. Fauci cited the new BA.2 variant as a potential cause for further lockdowns.
  • This variant is a further evolution of Omicron BA.1.
  • However, numbers for Omicron cases have dropped substantially, meaning a second wave may or may not reach 2020 numbers.
  • Those who previously had omicron are less at risk.
  • Several studies examine the impacts of lockdowns.

Fauci Cautions About COVID-19 Lockdowns

“If in fact, we do see a turnaround and a resurgence, we have to be able to pivot and go back to any degree of mitigation that is commensurate with what the situation is,” Fauci said in an interview.

“We can’t just say, ‘We’re done. We’re going to move on,'” he continued. “We’ve got to be able to be flexible because we’re dealing with a dynamic situation,” he added, noting the new variant to be less fatal than the Omicron variant. “The overall mortality is actually down. It’s a very interesting situation where the cases are going up, but it does not, at this point in time, appear to be any degree of severity.”

Omicron cases in the United States peaked in January. However, numbers got progressively lower heading into February and March. Last week, hospitals reported 35,842 new cases. By comparison, Omicron numbers were at 933,000 on Jan. 14. Scientists believe that the BA.2 variant will eventually dominate the others. While it retains Omicrons resistance to monoclonal antibody treatments, but the silver lining is that those who had Omicron are likely immune.

However, Fauci remained skeptical that the numbers will remain low in the face of this new COVID-19 variant. He also added that he “would not be surprised in the next few weeks, given the fact that we’ve begun to open up, and we have an increase in the BA.2 variant, that we’ll be seeing an increase in cases.”

Several Studies Show Impact of Covid Lockdowns

While Fauci warned against the possibility of more Covid-related lockdowns, he did not address concerns about the economic and social impacts relating to those measures.

Over at Johns-Hopkins University, researchers performed a meta-analysis of several studies pertaining to the initial lockdowns. Ultimately, they concluded that lockdowns in the US and in the UK only decreased Covid mortality by .2%. As a result, the researchers found lockdowns to be ineffective.

“While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted,” the researchers stated. “In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

The prevalent fear is that instituting such harsh measures will have a negative social and economic impact for little medical reason. Such issues that saw a rise during lockdown were unemployment and domestic violence, which saw an 8.1% rise. Moreover, concerns about the mental welfare of those in lockdown are a consideration.

The New England Journal of Medicine cited “numerous emotional outcomes, including stress, depression, irritability, insomnia, fear, confusion, anger, frustration, boredom and stigma associated with quarantine, some of which persisted after the quarantine.”