By Gretchen Clayson
Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on ‘This Week With George Stephanopoulos” Sunday and admitted that though the U.S. was currently seeing “unprecedented” numbers of Omicron cases, the severity of infection remained relatively low as compared to other variants.
“We first got inkling of that in South Africa,” Fauci explained. “When one looked at the relationship and the ratio between hospitalizations and cases, it was lower, the duration of hospital stay was lower, the requirements for oxygen was lower.” (RELATED: The Omicron Wave Is Over In South Africa, And There Was No Major Surge In Deaths)
Fauci warned, however, that it was important that Americans not become complacent. “Even if you have a less of a percentage of severity,” he warned, “when you have multi-multi-multi-fold more people getting infected, the net amount is you’re still going to get a lot of people that are going to be needing hospitalization. And that’s the reason why we’re concerned about stressing and straining the hospital system.”
When asked whether or not the focus on COVID cases should be less on daily case load and more on hospitalizations, Fauci readily agreed, stating, that as the “infections become less severe, it is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases.”
The U.S. reported more than 2.7 million cases in the last week of 2021, according to a USA Today analysis of data from Johns Hopkins. That same analysis showed that the last week of December 2021 also had several days with the highest amount positive cases for the entire pandemic. (RELATED: US Confirmed Over 441,000 New COVID Cases Tuesday, A Record)
“What we have to understand is that our health system is at a very different place than we were in previous surges,” Professor of Emergency Medicine Dr. Esther Choo said to CNN. “We have extremely high numbers of just lost health care workers, we’ve lost at least 20% of our health care workforce, probably more.” (RELATED: Hospital Workers Officially Fired After Refusing To Get COVID-19 Vaccine)
Fauci insists that the best way to relieve strain on American hospital systems is to get vaccinated or boosted, adding that he was “very concerned” about those who were not vaccinated at all. “Even though many of them are going to get asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic, a fair number of them are going to get severe disease,” he concluded.