Dr. Fauci made the statement throughout an interview with CBS's Face the Nation Sunday. Fauci announced that while he doubts the virus will fully be eradicated, he would like to see daily infections fall below 10,000 before the United States is able to "start living with COVID."
"I mean, we've heard people say, understandably, they're trying to look for a metric to give to the public that we're going to have to start living with COVID. I believe that's the case because I don't think we're going to eradicate it. We've only eradicated one infection of mankind, and that's smallpox. I don't think we're even going to eliminate it," Fauci announced.
Fauci mentioned other diseases that have been eradicated with "a very, very, very intensive vaccine campaign." The infectious disease specialist further commented on the possibility of a fifth wave of COVID.
"Well, we certainly have the potential to go into a fifth wave. And the fifth wave, or the magnitude of any increase, if you want to call it that it, will turn into a wave, will really be dependent upon what we do in the next few weeks to a couple of months," Dr. Fauci announced.
He added that the millions of eligible U.S. residents who have not gotten vaccinated, compounded with those who are beginning to experience waning immunity from their initial doses, have resulted in a diminished level of community immunity.
Explaining on NBC's Meet the Press that Omicron has "32 or more variants in that very important spike protein of the virus," the nation's top infectious disease expert said the mutations "strongly suggest that it's going to have an advantage in transmissibility and that it might evade immune protection" from monoclonal antibody treatment or even vaccines.
"So it's not necessarily that that's going to happen, but it's a strong indication that we really need to be prepared for that," the chief White House medical adviser continued.
Yet, while raising the possibility that this latest variant may be resistant to current COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, Fauci announced that the emergence of "troublesome" Omicron should sound the alarm for unvaccinated people to finally get their shots.
"It may not be as good in protecting against initial infection, but it has a very important impact on diminishing the likelihood that you're going to get a severe outcome from it," he announced on Meet the Press. "So this is a clarion call as far as I'm concerned of saying let's put aside all of these differences that we have and say, 'If you're not vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you're fully vaccinated, get boosted, and get the children vaccinated also.' We now have time."