Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that the dangerous Indian COVID-19 variant could become the most dominant strain in the US — as the mutation has rapidly spread among younger people in the UK.
The White House chief medical adviser said he feared that the so-called Delta variant, B1.617.2, could overtake the highly contagious UK variant, known as B117, in the country — an alarming prospect we should prevent.
“We cannot let that happen in the United States, which is such a powerful argument … to get vaccinated,” Fauci said Tuesday at the White House COVID-19 task force briefing.
The infectious diseases expert pointed out that the exact situation is already playing out across the pond.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, seen speaking during a press conference.Leigh Vogel/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images
“In the UK, the Delta variant is the rapidly emerging as the dominant variant, [accounting for] greater than 60 percent. It is replacing the B117,” he warned.
A health worker checks the temperature of a passenger during a COVID-19 coronavirus screening in Mumbai, India, on June 8, 2021.PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images
“When talking to their health authorities, the transmission is peaking in the younger group of 12- to 20-year-olds — mainly that group that we’re concerned about here, about making sure they get vaccinated,” he added.
Currently, the Delta variant accounts for about 6 percent of cases in the US, Fauci said.
His warning comes as the Biden administration faces criticism about there being millions of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shots at risk of expiring by the end of the month, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A student prepares to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus in Amritsar, India, on June 8, 2021. NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images
The White House, however, has defended the possibility of wasted doses.
“It’s not realistic to expect that not a single dose will go to waste,” said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to Biden’s coronavirus response team.
“You choose equity over making sure that there wasn’t a single wasted dose. Those are values we’ve continued to prioritize — speed and equity as the most important things and that means inevitably there will be situations where that will happen now again,” he added.
Anthony Fauci said the Delta variant of COVID-19, which first developed in India, currently accounts for 6 percent of all cases in the US.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
Currently, at least 63 percent of adults over the age of 18 in the US have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
President Biden, however, has set a goal of reaching a 70 percent threshold by July 4.
So far, only 13 states have reached that milestone — with Washington state over the weekend becoming the latest to join the list.