Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned Thursday that hospitalizations for fully immunized Americans who contract COVID-19 are on the rise.
"What we're witnessing today is an increase in the number of hospitalizations among individuals who have been vaccinated but not boosted," Fauci said. It is a large fraction, but by no means the majority, he added.
Fauci stated during Thursday's White House COVID-19 response team briefing that he does not expect COVID will be eradicated totally in the United States, but that "we want control" of the disease. He stated that the level of control is "far, far lower" compared to the current rate of infections and mortalities.
Fauci's remarks came amid the country's coronavirus vaccination booster program, which has targeted, among others, older Americans, people with underlying health issues, and employees in high-risk jobs.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration may decide this week to expand that booster program to tens of millions of people, allowing all adults to receive a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine six months or more after being administered with their first dose.
There are still 62 million Americans who are eligible to be vaccinated yet have refused to be vaccinated. Fauci said the numbers that he is present to the nation are accurate.
"Vaccines safeguard your health, the health of your family, and the health of your community," Fauci said alongside Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.
Approximately 31 million people have received a booster dose, and 195 million people in the United States have been fully immunized. In order to address data that indicates that protection against the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines begins to fade around six months after a second vaccination, the booster program has been implemented.
Those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot were instructed to follow up with a booster shot two months later. Concerns about the pandemic's severity persist, despite widespread immunization and the introduction of booster injections.
Cases in the U.S. have been increasing in recent weeks, with the seven-day average of new infections climbing to almost 88,000 every day. Officials have expressed concern about the data, particularly as the crucial winter holiday season approaches.
Before a crucial U.S. advisory panel meets Friday, the FDA is expected to give the green light to booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for all adults.