Fauci sounds alarm over highly transmissible COVID-19 variant surging in the U.K.

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Anthony Fauci urged Americans Wednesday to get vaccinated to halt the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant first discovered in India, which currently accounts for 6% of infections in the U.S.

Why it matters: The United Kingdom has seen an explosion in new cases as a result of the variant, which is now the dominant strain and may be associated with increased disease severity.

  • The U.K. reported 7,540 new cases on Wednesday, a surge that has largely been driven by virus spread among unvaccinated young people.
  • Evidence suggests the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly effective against the variant, a fact that Fauci cited to highlight the urgent need for more Americans to get vaccinated.

What he’s saying: “We cannot declare victory prematurely because there is still a substantial portion of people who have not been vaccinated,” Fauci said Wednesday on CNN.

  • “We don’t want to let happen in the United States what is happening currently in the U.K., where you have a troublesome variant essentially taking over as the dominant variant,” he continued.
  • “We have within our power to do that by getting people vaccinated, because we have very, very good vaccines.”

The big picture: The pace of vaccinations is waning in the U.S. Last week, there was a 13% decrease in vaccinations as compared to the week before, according to the Washington Post.

  • In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering halting his plans to fully reopen society on June 21 as a result of the new surge, according to the Washington Post.
  • President Biden has also sounded alarm over the situation in the U.K. and urged young Americans to get vaccinated. “If you’re young and haven’t gotten your shot yet, it really is time. It’s the best way to protect yourself and those you love,” Biden wrote in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.

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