Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, warned Sunday that another lockdown may become reality if coronavirus cases spike in the United States as states begin lifting pandemic-related restrictions.
Fauci's comments came as COVID-19 cases rise across Europe. Italian officials said they would enact a national lockdown beginning on Monday through the Easter weekend, while top German officials said Europe's "third wave" of COVID infections is now underway, CNBC reported.
What did Fauci say?
Despite a steep decline in COVID-19 cases thanks to vaccine efficacy, Fauci said on "Fox News Sunday" there is "absolutely no time to declare victory."
"We know from previous surges that we've had over the year that when you see that leveling off at a high level there's always the risk of a surge back up," Fauci said. "In fact, unfortunately, that's exactly what is happening in Europe right now."
"They had the same kind of decline. They always seem to be a few weeks ahead of us in the dynamics of the outbreak," Fauci continued. "Then they plateaued because they pulled back a bit. They thought that they were home free and they weren't. And now they're seeing an increase up."
Lifting pandemic restrictions is "ill-advised," according to Fauci, who declared that Texas reopening at 100% and lifting its mask mandate is "risky and potentially dangerous."
In a separate interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Fauci reiterated his belief that lifting restrictions caused the new spike in Europe.
That's what exactly happened in Europe. They had a diminution of cases, they plateaued, and they pulled back on public health measures. You see the pictures in the paper and on TV. They have opened the restaurants. They have opened some of the bars. The younger people particularly stopped wearing masks, and then, all of a sudden, you have a surge that went right back up. And that's where we are right now.
We can avoid that, Jake. We can avoid that if we continue to vaccinate people, get more and more protection without all of a sudden pulling back on public health measures.
Dr. Fauci says this is the biggest question he still has about Covid-19 www.youtube.com
What about social distancing?
Later in his interview with CNN host Jake Tapper, Fauci said that social distancing of just 3 feet — despite 6 feet being the gold standard for the past year — is now "good enough."
Fauci's admission came after Tapper asked about new research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which studied social distancing in Massachusetts public schools. The study found "no substantial difference" in case frequency between school districts that mandated social distancing of 6 feet and those that permitted just 3 feet of distance.
"Does this study suggest to you that 3 feet is good enough?" Tapper asked.
"It does, indeed," Fauci responded.