dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the new BA.2 Omicron subvariant could cause an “increase” in US cases if it becomes the dominant species — but the jump shouldn’t be as dramatic as previous spikes.
The White House chief medical adviser said the highly transmissible new subvariant has already become dominant worldwide, although it only accounts for about 30 percent of genetically sequenced cases in the US.
“It’s about 50 to 60 percent or so more transferable [than Omicron]meaning that eventually, over time, it could become the dominant variant,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Basically, we’re likely to see an increase in cases like we’ve seen in the European countries, especially the UK, where they’ve had the same situation as us,” Fauci said.
“They’ve relaxed some of the restrictions, like masking, and there’s a decline in immunity,” so with BA.2 in place, cases are likely to increase.
While he said the US can “expect an increase” in cases, he suggested the jump won’t be as hard as previous waves.
“Hopefully we don’t see an increase. I don’t think we’ll do that,” Fauci said.
But the top infectious disease expert warned that the US still needs to be prepared for other “unexpected” developments.
“We just can’t stand still, especially because we seemed to be in a somewhat low number of cases where the number of cases continued to fall, the number of deaths continued to fall and hospitalizations,” he said. “That’s no time at all to declare victory, because this virus has fooled us before. We really need to be prepared for the possibility of getting another variant, and we don’t want to be caught flat-footed on that.” .”