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Dr. Fauci Just Offered This Important Warning

We're not fully out of the woods yet.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

If you're trying to make sense of this current point in the COVID-19 pandemic, good news: You're not alone. Health experts are assiduously trying to determine what the BA.2 surge means for the U.S.—not an easy task when one critical measure of the pandemic has become unreliable. In an interview with PBS NewsHour, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, offered an important warning about the latest news on the pandemic. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Current Pandemic Stats Likely An Undercount

sad young female doctor or nurse wearing face protective mask for protection

The official gatherers of statistics say that new cases of COVID are increasing by double digits nationwide. Fauci warned not to put too much stock in those numbers—the actual extent of spread may be much higher. "I am virtually certain that we are undercounting the number of infections," he said. 

The reason: at-home testing. "There are many people, people who I know myself, friends and others, who get infected, who do an antigen test, don't get many symptoms, but don't report it to anyone. So, the fact is, there are infections that are not getting centrally reported," he said.


But There Is Good News

Man self tests for COVID-19 home test kit.

Although Fauci said "we should do better" in terms of reporting cases detected with an at-home test—possibly by making it easy to report a positive test result on an app—he noted that although the case numbers are fuzzy, hospitalizations aren't rising to a concerning level. "The relationship or ratio between hospitalizations and infections is such that we're not seeing a comparable increase proportionately of hospitalizations, unlike what was happening with Delta when, as the cases went way up, the hospitalizations also went way up," he said.


Is the End of the Pandemic Near? Or Here?

A technician at a drive up testing facility in Chicago walks between cars with patients awaiting testing for coronavirus covid-19

Asked if we're close to the end of the pandemic, Fauci called it "an unanswerable question." 

"We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase," he said. "Namely, we don't have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now."

"So if you're saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are."


Outlook on Continued Vaccination Unclear

Woman in medical face mask getting Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital

"What we hope to do, I don't believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we're not going to eradicate this virus. If we can keep that level very low, and intermittently vaccinate people — and I don't know how often that would have to be."

"That might be every year, that might be longer, in order to keep that level low. But, right now, we are not in the pandemic phase in this country. Pandemic means a widespread, throughout the world, infection that spreads rapidly among people."


How to Stay Safe Out There


Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael