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Fauci says 'new normal' won't see endless use of masks, booster shots

Elaborating on the “new normal,” Fauci expressed that we will develop a heightened awareness of respiratory illnesses, but it won’t impair how we interact with one another — and we certainly won’t be wearing masks all the time.

Fauci says 'new normal' won't see endless use of masks, booster shots
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the White House, says that the “new normal” to the pandemic will not see the use of masks, or endless booster shots.

Word of the pandemic’s wane comes with the spread of the new Omicron variant, which has quickly surpassed Delta as the dominant variant of COVID-19.

In remarks at the World Economic Forum, which is taking place in Davos, Switzerland, Fauci said that the world is still in the first of what he considers to be the five phases of the pandemic — however, if that sounds like dire news, it’s really quite the opposite.

The point Fauci is getting at with the “phases” of the pandemic is to state that the first phase is the “truly pandemic” phase in which the world is very negatively impacted, followed by deceleration and control. Eventually, Fauci says, the world will get the virus in check to the point where it does not impact everyday life.

“It’s not going to be that you’re going to eliminate this disease completely,” Fauci explained. “We’re not going to do that, but hopefully it will be at such a low level that it doesn’t disrupt our normal social, economic and other interactions with each other.”

“I hope the new normal also includes a real strong corporate memory of what pandemics can do so we don’t just go on when we get this under control forgetting how we have to do better in both the scientific preparedness, the public health preparedness, and the public health response,” he added.

Elaborating on the “new normal,” Fauci expressed that we will develop a heightened awareness of respiratory illnesses, but it won’t impair how we interact with one another — and we certainly won’t be wearing masks all the time.

“A new normal, I believe, will have a much, much greater attention to the capability of respiratory viruses that spread as they do,” said the scientist. “I think the new normal will be, I hope, a greater degree of interconnectivity and solidarity throughout the world when we are talking about the possibility of pandemics. I don’t think people are going to be walking around with masks all the time. I mean, I think that’s very much out of the question. That’s not going to be something that the world will accept as being normal.”

As for the booster shots, Fauci says that it’s unrealistic to expect a new vaccine for every variant of the coronavirus. The solution, Fauci says, is to study the mechanisms that induce the development of variants and deal with the virus accordingly.

“We really don’t want to get into the 'whack-a-mole approach' towards every new variant where it comes out and you all of a sudden have to make a new booster against a particular variant because you’ll be chasing it forever,” Fauci explained. “So that’s the reason why one of the things we are really all pushing for is finding out what the mechanisms are that induces a response to a commonality among all of the different real and potential variants that we’re seeing and that can occur.”

“And that’s something that I think is a very, very important scientific goal to be able to do that,” he said.

Fauci admits that both forms of the regular tests used to detect the coronavirus are inaccurate and can provide false results.

“The PCR are highly sensitive,” said Fauci. “In fact, in some respects can be a bit misleading because you could recover from the acute phase and not have replication competent virus. And since the PCR doesn’t tell you whether its replication competent, it tells you you have nucleotide fragments there.”

“On the other side of the coin, the antigen tests are less sensitive if you give just one,” he said. “But if you can do it in a sequential way they become cumulatively as sensitive as a PCR but there are considerable numbers of false negatives when you have a less sensitive antigen test, so you have two ends of the spectrum.”

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