Fauci: Unvaccinated Population Threatens Ending Pandemic in 2022

Fauci: Unvaccinated Population Threatens Ending Pandemic in 2022 Dr. Anthony Fauci Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID. (Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 20 January 2022 03:16 PM

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that unvaccinated people could delay the COVID-19 pandemic from becoming endemic, Yahoo Finance reported Wednesday.

Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told Yahoo the large number of unvaccinated people, combined with the possibility of future variants, makes him cautious about predicting the end of the pandemic.

"We have a highly effective, safe intervention that a substantial proportion of the population has not made use of that is complicating our response to an already formidable challenge from a very evasive virus," Fauci told Yahoo.

"The worst-case scenario is we're on our way there and we get hit with another variant that actually eludes the immune protection. I hope that's not the case."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses endemic to describe the constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area. Pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.

Fauci told Yahoo that COVID-19 could become endemic this year but added that the pandemic will end only when the disease isn't disrupting society. He said that to reach that goal, there needs to be a combination of two groups of people.

"[Getting] a combination of enough people vaccinated and boosted, together with people who are infected and recover and have a degree of immunity — hopefully they'll wind up getting vaccinated too — and you have a virus, a variant, that has a lesser degree of pathogenicity," Fauci said.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, admitted he has been surprised by the number of people refusing to get vaccinated.

"I think virtually everyone thought, when we had a vaccine as effective and safe as the vaccines we have now, that we would get enough people vaccinated that we would … have a diminution of infection not only in the United States, but … also essentially get our arms around, as it were, the pandemic globally," he told Yahoo.

"We were anticipating that there would be challenges, but there are a lot of conflating issues that made [2021] a very, very complicated year.”

Fauci said COVID vaccines and booster shots have held up well against more severe disease and death.

"The thing that makes it less likely, but not impossible, is that by that time, you will have so many people vaccinated and already infected, that you might have a level of community protection that may not get you away from the next variant," he told Yahoo, "but would protect you from the severity of the next variant."