October 27, 2020 | 6:57am | Updated October 27, 2020 | 12:40pm
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate committee hearing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci painted a dire picture of the surge in coronavirus cases, describing what some experts consider a third wave “more as an elongated — and an exacerbation of — the original first wave,” according to a report.
The total US case count has surpassed 8.7 million and the death toll rose above 225,000. Globally, more than 43 million have been sickened and more than 1.1 million have died.
Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, made his assessment of the rising numbers of cases Monday during Yahoo Finance’s annual All Markets Summit.
He said that while the Northeast has managed to mitigate the spread, the national baseline never fell to more manageable levels — like 10,000 cases per day. Instead, it has remained high at about 20,000 cases per day.
“We started to see a peak that brought us up to around 70,000 per day,” said the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Now as we’re getting into the cold weather, we came back up again to the worst that we’ve ever had, which was over 80,000 per day,” he continued.
“We’ve never really had waves in the sense of up and then down to a good baseline. It’s been wavering up and down. So now, we’re at the highest baseline. … [It’s] kind of semantics. You want to call it the third wave or extended first wave. No matter how you look at it, it’s not good news.”
Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Yahoo Finance that the only focus should be using known mitigation strategies to combat the deadly bug.
“We have seen general misconceptions about the terms second and third waves since we are continuing to face an omnipresent risk of explosive spread. Our approach should be the same throughout,” he said.
Fauci sought to move past the question of semantics.
“You want to call it the third wave or an extended first wave, no matter how you look at it, it’s not good news,” he said.
Tara Smith, an epidemiologist at Kent State University, told Yahoo Finance the notion of a wave is not as applicable as it was during the 1918 flu pandemic.
“It was clear for 1918 because there seemed to be clear distinctions between the various flare-ups, but here, we’ve never gone back to baseline between peaks of cases. I’d say this is the third surge or peak,” she said.
And Dr. Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center, said that “only when looking back at the shape of a curve can you truly call something a peak or wave.
“It’s also important to mention that the overall U.S. graph looks very different than individual state graphs,” she said.
“The U.S. as a whole, however, never declined to low levels after its first peak, which is why some people say we are still in the ‘first wave,’” Shira added.
Meanwhile, Fauci also reacted to the pushback he has received from President Trump, who has said people “are tired from hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”
“It’s certainly not helpful, but that’s something that I really don’t think I should be wringing my hands about,” he said at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit.
There is “a limited amount of time in the day,” he added.