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‘Entirely conceivable’ feds recommend another COVID vaccine booster even as new cases trend ‘in right direction,’ Dr. Anthony Fauci says logo 1/24/2022 Benjamin Kail,

Even though COVID-19 case totals are trending downward across the U.S., it’s possible the federal government recommends another follow-up booster shot depending on ongoing research into initial boosters’ durability, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

Fauci told ABC News’ “This Week” that public health officials are still studying the impact of boosters to see how long their protection lasts.

“Certainly, you are going to see the antibody levels go down — that’s natural,” he said. “But there’s an element of the immune response, B cell memory and T cell responses, where even though you do see a diminution of antibody levels, it is quite conceivable, and I hope it’s true, that the third-shot boost will give a much greater durability of protection. We’re following that very carefully. And when I say protection, I mean protection against severe disease.”

Fauci noted that breakthrough infections of vaccinated and boosted Americans will happen, but “for the very most part, they’re mild or even asymptomatic” cases. He said public health officials remain hopeful that Americans won’t need additional booster shots.

But Fauci, the chief White House medical adviser, added that, “we may need to boost again, that’s entirely conceivable. But before we make that decision, about yet again another boost, we want to determine clearly what the durability of protection is of the regular boost.”

Fauci’s comments come after new cases across the U.S. dropped by nearly 10% last week, though the country still averages more than 700,000 new infections daily — far more than seen in prior surges.

The average number of daily cases in Massachusetts (more than 15,600) has dropped 21% compared to the first week in January, according to data tracked by The New York Times.

According to case by test date data reported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, new cases have dropped at least 30% since a pandemic high of more than 161,000 cases over the week of Jan. 2.

Fauci said the recent surge driven by the highly contagious omicron variant will likely peak for the U.S. overall within a couple weeks.

“You never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus, because it’s certainly surprised us in the past,” Fauci said. “But if you look at the patterns we’ve seen in South Africa, the United Kingdom and in Israel ... and in the Northeast and New England and Upper Midwest states, they’ve peaked and started to come down rather sharply. There are still some states, in the Southern and Western states, that continue to go up. But if the pattern follows ... I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country.”

Fauci added that there’s “a great deal of variation in the degree of vaccinations that we have in one region compared to another,” but that eventually states’ case totals will all start going in the same direction — downward.

“There may be a bit more pain and suffering with hospitalizations in those areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten boosters,” he said. “But we do know ... that even with omicron, boosting makes a major, major difference in protecting you from hospitalization and severe outcomes. So things are looking good — we don’t want to get overconfident, but they look they’re going in the right direction right now.”

While vaccines and boosters have kept severe cases and deaths down compared to last year, the significant increase seen nationwide during the recent spike in omicron cases is expected to bring a rise in deaths, according to state and federal public health officials.

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