Fauci Hints at COVID Case Surge After the Holidays, Believes Worst Is Yet to Come

As the U.S. continued to record a startling volume of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Sunday that more severe ramifications of the nation's outbreak are likely still ahead.

Speaking to CNN correspondent Dana Bash during his latest State of the Union appearance, the leading health expert addressed potential impacts of indoor gatherings and widespread travel tied to holiday celebrations. Acknowledging the present spike in virus cases and grave fatality toll that has climbed in conjunction with it, Fauci said a "post-seasonal" surge could materialize near the start of 2021.

"The reason I'm concerned, and my colleagues in public health are concerned, also, is that we very well might see a post-seasonal—in the sense of Christmas and New Year's—surge," said the top physician and longstanding director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). "Because if you look at the slope...the incline of cases that we've experienced as we've gone into the late fall and soon-to-be early winter, it is really quite troubling."

Fauci echoed remarks from President-elect Joe Biden prior to Christmas last week, telling Bash, "as we get into the next few weeks, [the outbreak] might actually get worse." He pinpointed the heightened incidence of in-person social events and movement as the cause of this anticipated surge.

Numerous public officials, including Fauci, previously urged U.S. residents to celebrate the holidays virtually, or limit in-person gatherings to small groups, as means to reduce risks of exacerbated COVID-19 transmission. On Wednesday, Biden reminded Americans that "our darkest days in this battle against COVID are ahead of us — not behind us," and implored civilians to exercise particular caution and adhere to safety measures in preparation.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he believes the worst is still yet to come in the coronavirus pandemic following the holiday season. “I share the concern of President-elect Biden that as we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse.” #CNNSOTU https://t.co/c5vBjWbU3I pic.twitter.com/uOdjNHehGx

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 27, 2020

However, despite their recommendations, as well as formal guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many people proceeded with their holiday usual plans. Last Wednesday marked the busiest day of U.S. air travel since the pandemic began, with data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirming nearly 1.2 million passenger screenings at airports across the country. Wednesday's airport traffic followed days of rising numbers. TSA records showed at least 4 million additional passengers were screened at airport security checkpoints since the previous weekend.

Close to 19 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Sunday morning, and roughly 332,000 people have passed away as a result, according to Johns Hopkins University's data.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he feels fine after receiving the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and experienced “nothing serious at all.” https://t.co/MOjYmV3dHn #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/bpySnI6epr

— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) December 27, 2020

Fauci also shared details about his experience receiving the first installment of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine during his State of the Union appearance on Sunday. The NIAID director was vaccinated on camera, as were other public figures who received the early immunization. He reported experiencing minimal side effects.

Newsweek reached out to NIAID for further comment, but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, COVID-19, Coronavirus, NIAID
Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that another surge in COVID-19 cases could transpire over the next few weeks, as a result of group gatherings and travel during the holiday season. Here, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar before receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. Patrick Semansky/Pool/Getty Images