WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci isn’t ready to say the nation has turned the corner on the coronavirus pandemic despite about 2.5 million Americans are getting vaccinated each day.
The government’s top infectious disease expert says he often gets asked that question. His response: “We are at the corner. Whether we or not we are going to be turning the corner remains to be seen.”
At the White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Fauci says the main challenge remains a stubbornly high level of new daily cases in the country. It’s hovering around an average of 55,000 and up slightly in recent days. While that is clearly much better than the 250,000 daily cases at the peak of the winter wave, it’s uncomfortably close to levels seen during the COVID wave of last summer.
The White House COVID-19 response team briefings, set for three times a week, are part of President Joe Biden’s attempt to rebuild trust and mobilize Americans to follow health guidance on the coronavirus and to break down public resistance to the vaccine.
“When you are at that level, I don’t think you can declare victory and say you have turned the corner,” Fauci says.
On the plus side, along with the growing level of vaccinations, Fauci is underscoring recent studies that show negligible rates of coronavirus infection among fully vaccinated people. There’s also been a significant drop in the number of people 65 and older going to the emergency room with COVID-19. That’s the age group most vulnerable to the disease.
The 10:30 a.m. ET briefing on Wednesday included Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and White House Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Andy Slavitt.
On Tuesday, the White House said that 27 million doses of coronavirus vaccines will be distributed next week, more than three times the number when President Biden took office just over two months ago.
Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients informed governors on their weekly conference call that 23 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna and about 4 million of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine will be shipped next week.
The administration expects supplies to continue to increase in the coming weeks, which comes as more states are relaxing eligibility criteria for shots. Biden is directing all adults be eligible for vaccines nationwide by May 1, and the U.S. remains on track to have enough supply to cover all adults by the end of May.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has more than 29 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. had more than 543,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 124 million confirmed cases with more than 2.7 million deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.