Dr. Fauci on Potential for 'Monster' COVID Variant to Emerge

Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned a "functionally different" COVID variant could emerge after he was asked about the potential for a "monster" form of the virus to develop.

On Tuesday, MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski asked the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden about the future of the pandemic and the potential for the situation to spiral "beyond Delta to monster variant."

The Delta variant is currently the dominant form of COVID in the U.S., making up more than 99 percent of cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fauci said: "There's always a risk of as you get more circulation of virus in the community that you'll get enough accumulation of new mutations to get a variant that is functionally different than the ones we're seeing now."

He went on to say that Delta transmits "extraordinarily readily and efficiently" between people, and explained the recent surge in cases in the U.S.

"One of the reasons why we want to make sure we get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can is that viruses will not mutate if they don't have the opportunity to spread and replicate. So the more dynamics of viral activity you have in the community, the greater opportunity you give to the virus to mutate. So it's one of those things that you're vaccinating now to prevent the next mutant coming, the next variant from coming," he said.

Fauci's warning comes as the U.S. experiences a number of cases per day not seen since winter. According to The New York Times COVID tracker, as of Tuesday the U.S. was reporting 152,177 new COVID cases per day.

Across the country, an average of 54 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, but no state yet has 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated.

The state closest to reaching this level is Vermont, at 69 percent fully vaccinated. 67 percent of people in Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts are fully vaccinated.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the states of West Virginia, Wyoming, Idaho, and Alabama, where 60 percent of the population is yet to be fully vaccinated.

The U.S. is lagging behind several other countries. In Europe, Spain has 75 percent of the population fully vaccinated, with France and Italy at 64 percent, and Germany at 62 percent.

Behind the U.S. are Japan, with 52 percent of the population fully vaccinated, Mexico at 31 percent, and India at 13 percent.

Vaccination rates in the U.S. were on the rise, until Labour Day, according to The New York Times, which reports that at least three-quarters of American adults have at least received one dose of a vaccine.

In the Morning Joe interview, Fauci went on to explain that allowing COVID to accumulate mutations could undo some of the good work done by vaccination programs thus far.

"You don't want to see any more variants come in, because then, in many respects, it would negate some of the very positive protection that you get from the vaccines," he said.

Dr Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before a Senate committee on July 20, 2021 at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Fauci said on 'Morning Joe' show that the spread of COVID in the U.S. risks the accumulation of mutations that could create a "functionally different" virus. Pool / Pool/Getty