“It is almost a race between vaccinating people and this surge that is apparently set to increase,” said Fauci, noting that there is an increase in Europe that experts fear for the US.
The US vaccinates people quickly, just over 33% of the population – more than 109 million people – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and all 50 states have committed to opening vaccinations to all adults by April 19.
But the pace at which vaccines are getting into the arms of Americans needs to accelerate as the most common strain in the US, Walensky, the virus variant first identified in the UK, known to be more transmissible and believed to be more lethal said.
To combat the variant, Fauci urged Americans to get vaccinated and adhere to preventive measures.
“Hold on a little longer,” he said. “Now is not the time, as I have said so many times, to declare victory ahead of time.”
Cases askew younger
The recent infections have affected younger people, which Fauci says is partly due to the fact that so many older people were vaccinated. More than 75% of people aged 65 and over in the United States have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.
A number of factors play a role, including the accumulation of cases in day-care centers and school sports teams in which people are in close contact and sometimes do not wear masks, and variant B.1.1.7.
“I think that’s what explains these cases in young people,” he said.
As the cases tend towards younger Americans, many schools are expanding access to full face-to-face learning. About three-quarters of all public schools in the United States are open to full-time personal or hybrid learning.
Yet many remain in distance learning. According to data released Wednesday by the Department of Education’s National Educational Progress Assessment, only 39% of fourth graders and 29% of eighth graders attended full-time private school.
Those students returning to school are not yet eligible for vaccinations, although studies will hopefully show the effectiveness of vaccinations in children as young as six months in the coming months, Fauci said.
Until then, students under the age of 16 should continue to wear masks to avoid close contact and indoor attitudes, Fauci said.
Risks and benefits of the vaccine
As the US races to vaccinate people, experts and officials are grappling with side effects believed to be related to some gunshots.
Operations were suspended on Wednesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado after health officials reported 11 people who received their vaccinations fell ill.
These patients had symptoms such as nausea and dizziness and were taken to a local hospital for observation out of caution, according to a press release from the Colorado State Joint Information Center.
Although the cases might sound worrying, state officials said they had no reason to believe that those vaccinated at the center should be concerned.
“The state has no reason to believe that people who were vaccinated at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park today should be concerned,” state officials said.
“As far as we know, today’s side effects were consistent with those expected,” said Scott Bookman, COVID-19 incident commander, in the press release. “Getting a vaccine is far safer than getting seriously ill with COVID-19.”
CNN’s Amanda Sealy, Ben Tinker, Lauren Mascarenhas, Betsy Klein, Elizabeth Stuart, Joe Sutton, Richard Greene and Schams Elwazer contributed to this report.