Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the new BA.2 Omicron subvariant may trigger an “increase” in US cases as it becomes the dominant strain — but the jump shouldn’t be as dramatic as previous surges.
The White House chief medical adviser said the highly transmissible new subvariant has already become dominant globally, though it only accounts for around 30 percent of genetically sequenced cases in the US.
“It’s about 50 to 60 percent or so more transmissible [than Omicron], which means ultimately, over time, it might take over as the dominant variant,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“The bottom line is we likely will see an uptick in cases as we’ve seen in the European countries, particularly the UK, where they’ve had the same situation as we’ve had,” Fauci said.
“They have a relaxation of some of the restrictions such as masking, and there’s a waning of immunity,” so with BA.2 on the scene, cases are likely to rise.
Though he said the US “can expect to see an increase” in cases, he suggested that the jump won’t be as harsh as previous waves.
“Hopefully, we won’t see a surge. I don’t think we will,” Fauci said.
But the top infectious-disease expert warned that the US still has to be prepared for other “unexpected” developments.
“We just can’t stand still, particularly as we had appeared be in somewhat of a low of cases where cases continue to come down, deaths continue to come down, and hospitalizations,” he said. “That’s no time at all to declare victory, because this virus has fooled us before, and we really must be prepared for the possibility that we might get another variant, and we don’t want to be caught flat-footed on that.”