Fauci says too soon to know whether Omicron will bring end to the pandemic

Country's top infectious disease expert also say research focus should be on vaccines that broadly protect against new virus strains

Updated: January 18, 2022 - 8:47am

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, says it remains unclear whether the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 will lead to the end of the pandemic.

"It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging," he said at a virtual event held Monday by the World Economic Forum.

Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, also said for the pandemic, in his estimation, to end, the virus would have to reach a point where it existed in society but did not disrupt society.

"We were fortunate," he said about Omicron not being severe as the virus' Delta variant.

"But the sheer volume of people who are getting infected overrides that rather less level of pathogenicity," Fauci, President Biden's top medical adviser, also said. 

He also said that continued research efforts should focus on vaccines that broadly protect against new strains of the virus.

"We don’t want to get into a whack-a-mole for every variant, where you have to make a booster against a particular variant. You’ll be chasing it forever," Fauci said.

There are some indications that suggest the most recent surge of COVID in the United States is peaking.

Case numbers have dropped in some East Coast states, but at least 150,000 people in the U.S. were reportedly hospitalized Monday with the virus.

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