Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Americans Sunday that they should “prepare for the worst” after the emergence of another new coronavirus variant, dubbed omicron, but stopped short of calling for more lockdowns an travel bans.
Fauci spoke with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” addressing the measures that were already being taken — such as travel restrictions — and how effective he expected them to be.
“We’re seeing these travel bans. Are they going to make any difference?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“You know, it will slow things down, George,” Fauci replied, saying that imposing travel bans on people was not likely to stop the highly transmissible virus from traveling across borders. “No way that’s going to happen. What you can do is you can delay it enough to get us better prepared. That’s the thing that people need to understand. If you’re going to do the travel ban the way we’ve done now and that we’re implementing right now, utilize the time that you’re buying to fill in the gaps.”
Fauci went on to say that experts and scientists should be using the time such delays could buy them to study the new variant of the virus as closely as possible.
“You learn what its relationship is to the antibodies induced by vaccines and above all you use this time to really put your pedal to the floor and get people vaccinated and get people boosted. It’s going to give us a period of time to enhance our preparedness,” Fauci continued. “I think we have to give kudos to the South Africans for being so transparent so quickly by giving us this information. So they’re giving us time to be better prepared.”
Stephanopoulos asked what Fauci would advise regarding travel — particularly travel outside the United States.
“Right now people should be prudent,” Fauci said, noting that any travel during a pandemic posed a risk. “The best way to protect yourself, if you’re going to travel, have to travel, or want to travel, is to get vaccinated and to be prudent when you travel about wearing masks in indoor settings such as if you go to the airport, which is one of the most congregate settings you can imagine. Make sure you wear a mask. Above all vaccination will be the most important way to prevent you from being at such a high risk.”
Stephanopoulos then asked whether Fauci expected to see more lockdowns and mandates on the horizon.
Fauci says you need to prepare for more covid lockdowns, guys. pic.twitter.com/A7aIxPeSvc
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) November 28, 2021
“I don’t know, George. It’s really too early to say,” Fauci replied, adding, “We just really need to, as I’ve said so often, prepare for the worst. It may not be we’re going to have to go the route people are saying. We don’t know a lot about this virus. So we want to prepare as best we can, but it may turn out this preparation, although important, may not not necessarily push us to the next level.”
“Let’s see what the information that we’re getting in real time tells us,” Fauci concluded, arguing that it might yet be premature to discuss implementing more mandates and lockdowns. “We’ll make decisions based on the science and the evidence the way we always do. But you want to be prepared to do anything and everything. That’s the reason why we’re playing such close attention to this and why we’re all over it.”