“We are perilously close,” the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. “You’re going to be in a situation where you’re going to have to make some very tough choices.”
Fauci told CNN’s Jim Acosta the best way to prevent health care workers from having to make those tough choices is to “pull out all the stops on everything we can do to prevent new infections.”
Masking is important, Fauci noted, but “vaccination is the number one” method of lowering hospitalizations.
A federal medical team arrived in Kentucky this weekend to help increase medical assistance and the ability to open more hospital beds in light of record-breaking coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, according to a statement from Gov. Andy Beshear’s office.
“Our situation is dire,” Beshear told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “We are hit very, very hard, but we are going to continue to fight. When you’re at war, you don’t get to cry about what you can or can’t do. You’ve got to do your very best every day because this is a battle of life versus death.”
Beshear said he sent the National Guard to the hardest hit hospitals in the state to work on logistics and free up clinicians to attend to patients.
In Albany, Georgia, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Director of Emergency Services Dr. James Black told CNN’s Amara Walker Saturday that his hospital nearly doubled its ICU capacity yet is still faced with an overflow of patients.
“The emergency department is full and the hospital is full,” Black said. “Anytime a patient is discharged, we have patients waiting on those beds.”
Moderna may lag behind Pfizer in booster rollout
President Joe Biden had planned to roll out booster doses for Pfizer and Moderna at the same time, but Fauci told CNN Sunday that may not happen.
Fauci said vaccine maker Pfizer has gotten its information to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the information has been examined and “things look like they’re ready to go.”
But, he said Moderna might be a little bit behind Pfizer, and if it is, rather than seeing a simultaneous roll out of both products, it would be a sequential roll out by about a week or two.
“I don’t think that is a major issue there, but we would have liked to have seen it happen all together, simultaneously. But ultimately the plan will be implemented, as was put forth,” Fauci said.
The plan is contingent, first, on the companies submitting the appropriate data to the FDA, and second, getting an approval from the FDA and then a recommendation from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisers, he said.
With the potential timing discrepancy, researchers are looking into whether different types of Covid-19 vaccines can be mixed and matched.
“We’re lining up Pfizer against Pfizer, Pfizer for Moderna, and vice vera,” Fauci told Weijia Jiang on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “Hopefully within a reasonable period of time, measured in a couple weeks, we will have that data.”
Fauci said hopefully it will work out that people who got Pfizer will boost with Pfizer, and people who got Moderna will boost with Moderna.
“But we are doing the studies to determine if you can … switch one with the other,” he said.
‘Surround children with vaccinated people,’ Fauci says
While experts have stressed vaccination as a key measure of protection against the virus, children under 12 are still not eligible for vaccines — making the decisions of adults even more important to their safety.
“The way you protect children who, because of their age, cannot get vaccinated yet is to surround the children — be it friends, family, school teachers, personnel in the school — surround the children with vaccinated people,” Fauci told CNN.
“Washington schools have the structure, protocol and people to have successful in-person education,” Shah said.
If the US wants to keep children in the classroom this school year, people have to wear masks, Fauci added. But while some areas have adopted mask and vaccine mandates, others have curbed such measures.
In Kentucky, Beshear said he’s limited on what he can do because the state officials opposed his attempt at a school mask mandate.
“If I had the ability to do it right now, we would have a masking order when you are in public and indoors. We know that’s a proven way to slow the spread of the virus, and ultimately help our healthcare capacity,” Beshear told NBC Sunday.
CNN’s John Bonifield, Elizabeth Joseph and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.