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White House COVID-19 briefing: Fauci says omicron could peak in states by Feb., NIH urges universal vaccines

Anthony Fauci
Posted at 8:36 AM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 11:52:29-05

The White House COVID-19 Response Team is set to update the public and the press Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's This Week that he expects most states to have reached their peak with omicron by mid-February, and said that he is "as confident as you can be" that most of the states will have turned around with their peak by then, and that cases and hospitalizations will start to come down by that time.

Dr. Fauci, while responding to a question on sustained vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. during the briefing, said the data is "stunningly" obvious that vaccines reduce severe illness and hospitalizations.

When asked if this could possibly be the last disruptive surge, and what experts are looking for before people might be able to book travel and go about life, Dr. Fauci said we "don't know," and we'll have to continue to look at the data and see how it is evolving. Fauci urged people to get vaccinations and booster shots to get to a level of protection in the community where even if another variant arises, the surges of hospitalizations won't spike as they have.

Fauci said during the briefing, "Where we want to be is that sufficient control, not eradication...but a level of control that does not disrupt us in society."

Fauci is reportedly expected to discuss efforts at the National Institutes of Health to pursue a universal coronavirus vaccine. As CNN reported, audio from pre-recorded comments set to air later on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET on SiriusXM's indicates that Fauci will bring the topic up at today's White House COVID-19 briefing at 11 a.m. ET.

CNN quoted the recorded audio writing, "It's not gonna be trying to get a vaccine against all the coronaviruses all at once, but start with a vaccine that covers all the different variants of SARS-CoV-2. And then get a pan-sarbecovirus, which includes SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 ... a lot of activity that's going on in that regard,” Fauci said.

In mid-December, the NIH published a news release urging the pursuit of a universal coronavirus vaccine, writing that the organization believes that novel coronaviruses will "continue to infect bats and other animal reservoirs and potentially emerge to pose a pandemic threat to humans."

The NIH laid out three key goals it hopes the medical research community will focus on in efforts to control this.

The first would be to "characterize the range of coronavirus genetic diversity in multiple animal species." The second would be to "better understand coronavirus disease pathogenesis in laboratory animal models and people." The third would be to "apply this knowledge to the development of long-lasting, broadly protective coronavirus vaccines."