Fauci: 'We are not where we need to be' after Biden declares 'pandemic is over'

(The Hill) — Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Monday that the U.S. is not where it needs to be regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the day after an interview with President Joe Biden was broadcast in which he said that the “pandemic is over.”

In a talk with the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Fauci, Biden’s top COVID-19 adviser who last month announced his pending retirement from the government, said that much depends on how the country handles future virus variants. 

“How we respond and how we’re prepared for the evolution of these variants is going to depend on us. And that gets to the other conflicting aspect of this — is the lack of a uniform acceptance of the interventions that are available to us in this country where even now, more than two years, close to three years, into the outbreak, we have only 67 percent of our population vaccinated and only one-half of those have received a single boost,” Fauci said. 

He noted that the country is still experiencing more than 400 daily deaths due to COVID-19, though that number is down from a year earlier.

“But we are not where we need to be if we’re going to be able to, quote, ‘live with the virus,’ because we know we’re not going to eradicate it. We only did that with one virus, which is smallpox, and that was very different because smallpox doesn’t change from year to year, or decade to decade, or even from century to century,” Fauci added.

“And we have vaccines and infection that imparts immunity that lasts for decades and possibly lifetime.” 

In a “60 Minutes” interview that ran Sunday, Biden, who recently recovered from a COVID diagnosis, told CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley that the country seems to be in “good shape” to move past the pandemic phase. 

“The pandemic is over,” Biden said. “We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over. if you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it.”