Fauci: ‘I don’t think we’re going to see lockdowns’ with the Delta variant surge, but more ‘pain and suffering’ is likely

Anthony Fauci Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

By Peter Weber, Senior editor

COVID-19 cases are rising sharply in the U.S., thanks to the more easily transmissible Delta variant, but while many Americans may have to mask up again, “I don’t think we’re going to see lockdowns,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top federal infectious disease expert, said on Sunday’s ABC This Week. “I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country — not enough to crush the outbreak — but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter.”

Still, “things are going to get worse” as the Delta strain spreads, Fauci added. “We’re looking, not, I believe, to lockdown, but we’re looking to some pain and suffering in the future because we’re seeing the cases go up, which is the reason why we keep saying over and over again, the solution to this is get vaccinated and this would not be happening.” Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, said “we are seeing an outbreak of the unvaccinated” now, adding that “from the standpoint of illness, hospitalization, suffering, and death, the unvaccinated are much more vulnerable.”

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, concurred that vaccinations are the way out of this pandemic. “If you haven’t yet gotten vaccinated, the evidence is overwhelming,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “Let’s get off the fence, move forward and be part of the winning team that gets this Delta out of here.”

Collins said the coronavirus is “having a pretty big party in the middle of the country,” and acknowledged that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance that everyone at K-12 schools, vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear masks once school beings is “tiresome and parents and kids are sick of it, but we are talking about life and death here.” Fauci said the new CDC guidelines, which also call for most Americans to wear masks in indoor public spaces again, have “much more to do with transmission” to “vulnerable people” than protecting healthy vaccinated people from rare and overwhelmingly mild breakthrough cases.