March 21, 2022 -- As top U.S. health officials track the latest COVID-19 spike in Europe, they’re encouraging Americans not to panic about another potential wave hitting the country.
“Our focus should be on preparation, not on panic,” Vivek Murthy, MD, the U.S. surgeon general, said on Fox News Sunday.
BA.2, the Omicron subvariant, has led to an increase in cases across European countries in recent weeks. U.S. officials are closely watching Germany, Italy, and the U.K. to track recent trends.
Although the U.S. hasn’t yet seen a noticeable increase in cases, the percentage of BA.2 is rising in the Northeast and West. During the last week, health officials have started to warn that a spike in cases is nearly inevitable in the U.S., according to Politico.
On Sunday, Murthy said that Americans can’t ignore the chance of a new wave but that the country is in a better position now than in the previous 2 years, when COVID-19 “defined our lives.”
“We should be prepared that COVID hasn’t gone away,” he said. “There may be rises and falls in cases in the months ahead, but here’s the key: Our goal is to keep people out of the hospital.”
Vaccines, booster shots, and COVID-19 treatments will help the country to get through new waves, Murthy said.
“We’re in mile 18 of a marathon. We can’t quit,” he said. “Because COVID’s not quitting, we can’t quit either. We’ve got to keep our eye on the ball.”
Along the same lines, it’s “no time at all to declare victory,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday.
Cases will likely increase due to BA.2, Fauci said, though he doesn’t expect a major surge. He also doesn’t think the U.S. will ramp up restrictions, “but you always have to have the flexibility.” If more people have to be hospitalized, for instance, some restrictions may be needed.
Fauci noted that 65% of the population has been vaccinated and about 50% of those who are eligible for a booster have received one. He encouraged people to get vaccinated and boosted and expressed hope that Congress will approve funding for tests, vaccines, and treatments.
“This virus has fooled us before, and we really must be prepared for the possibility that we might get another variant,” he said. “And we don’t want to be caught flat-footed on that.”