In response to a question from Yahoo News Senior White House Correspondent Alexander Nazaryan about moving away from an emergency stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country is moving “in the right direction” with regard to combating the coronavirus. White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients added that the U.S. is in a better position with vaccinations and treatments compared to when President Biden took office.
- Can you speak broadly to what else can be done to move us past the emergency stage of the pandemic? That's clearly the message that we heard from the President last night. How do we articulate that-- how do you articulate that message in the weeks and months to come, assuming that we don't have some new variant?
- Dr. Fauci, do you want to start there?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, you know, when you say emergency, emergency means different things to different people. We are still in a situation right now where, as you know, we have about 68,000 cases. We are coming down in the right direction. We hope, and I believe we will get there, all the parameters that we have pointing to this as well as the interventions that we have that we will reach a stage further and further down to the point where some people call it living with the virus, some people call it endemic.
If that is not an emergency, then, in fact, we're out of the emergency situation. But remember, whenever you talk about this, the thing you always must keep saying-- we always must be prepared for the eventuality of another variant. So we can go living our lives the way we've just described, the way Jeff, and what Dr. Walensky, and what the president described last night. We are in that situation where we can do that.
That doesn't necessarily mean that the definition of an emergency, where there are other things that are important that one can do and much greater ease when you are in a situation where you're officially in an emergency. But right now, if you look at the practicality of where we are, we are clearly going in the right direction. And with all the interventions we have, I believe that we are prepared for the possibility that we will get another variant-- with regard to vaccines, boosters, testing, good masks, and antivirals.
JEFF ZIENTS: Yeah, I would just add on to what Dr. Fauci said that over the past year, we've made significant progress and are in a very different position than we were when President Biden took office. 215 million people fully vaccinated, two out of three eligible adults boosted, multiple treatment options, which we've talked about today, including millions of life-saving pills, free at-home testing, 400 million high quality masks going out for free.
And because of this progress and the widely available nature of these tools, we've reached a new moment in the fight with COVID-19. Today, we are in a position to move forward safely and to get back to our more normal routines. Today's plan has been in the making for a long time. We started it in early January.
It was developed with the input from dozens of experts, local public health leaders, governors, and partners across our federal agencies. And with additional support from Congress, we'll ensure we protect more people from COVID going forward, that we prepare for new variants, and we prevent shutdowns. At the same time, I think it's important to note that there is more work ahead of us.
We'll roll out vaccines for kids ages 2 to 5. It's authorized by FDA and recommended by CDC. We'll launch the Test to Treat initiative so people can get tested and treated for free in one stop. And we'll create new stockpiles of tests, pills, and masks so we have the tools ready to deploy if we need them. So the president was very clear, as Dr. Fauci said, that we need to be prepared for any possible variant and invest in the next level, the next generation of treatments and vaccines.
Funding from Congress will be critical for these efforts. So we will be working very closely with Capitol Hill going forward.