Dr. Fauci Warns of Possible COVID Surge in U.S. After European Uptick

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.'s top infectious diseases expert, has warned that there could be another COVID surge on the way as many as 15 states face rising case numbers.

The national daily case tally has fallen by nearly a third over the last month and, as of Saturday, more than 118 million vaccine doses had been administered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But health experts are worried there could be a resurgence if health measures like mask use are relaxed too soon.

Dr. Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was concerned that the flattening of cases was making Americans complacent, and that it could presage a rise in case numbers.

"If you look at the dynamics of the outbreak, we had that big surge in the winter, the midwinter, the late winter then it started coming down really nicely," he told Today, "and now it's plateaued.

"That is not a good thing, because what has happened in the past...that when you have that plateauing—that's usually the forerunner of another surge."

Dr. Fauci: “... when you have that plateauing, that’s usually the forerunner of another surge. We’ve actually seen that in the EU. ... They went up like us, came back down, plateaued and pulled back on masking. Right now, they’re going through the beginning of a surge.” pic.twitter.com/hLIIUgdUfD

— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 20, 2021

More than a dozen states, primarily in the upper Midwest, the New York area and the Mid-Atlantic, have had at least a 10 percent spike in numbers, according to analysis by ABC News of CDC data.

Fauci highlighted how the U.S. should take heed of the European Union, which is around a month ahead of the U.S. in the dynamics of their outbreak and currently experiencing a COVID surge.

Regions in Italy have again gone into the strictest form of lockdown, while Germany's head of public health warned it was at the beginning of a "massive" third wave. On Friday, Belgium joined France in tightening COVID measures.

Fauci said Europe offered a valuable lesson for the U.S. telling the NBC program on Saturday, "they went up like us, came back down, plateaued, and they pulled back on their public health measures, masking and things like that."

"Right now they are going through the beginning of a surge—five or ten percent increases. I'm really concerned if we declare victory prematurely then that is what is going to happen."

This week, Fauci defended the use of face masks following an exchange with Senator Rand Paul who told him during a Senate committee meeting, "you parade around in two masks for show."

In a clip that was widely viewed, Fauci replied: "Can I just state for the record that masks are not theater. I totally disagree with you."

The graphic below provided by Statista compares newly confirmed COVID cases in the U.S. and in Europe.

COVID spread across Europe vs U.S.
Dr. Anthony Fauci,
Dr. Anthony Fauci, during a Senate committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. He warned that the current COVID plateau could signal a surge soon. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images