The worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be on the horizon for the US, with a possible surge in cases after the Christmas and New Year's holidays, the country's top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has warned.

Dr Fauci explained his projections on CNN's State of the Union TV program on Sunday, after the network's chief political correspondent Dana Bash asked if the worst of COVID-19 is yet to come.

"We very well might see a post-seasonal - in the sense of Christmas, New Year's - surge, and as I've described it, as a surge upon a surge," Dr Fauci replied.

"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."


Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Fauci said that the figures Bash mentioned were correct - a baseline of 200,000 new COVID-19 cases, about 2,000 deaths per day, and hospitalisations exceeding 120,000.

"We are really at a very critical point, if you put more pressure on the system by what might be a post-seasonal surge because of travelling and the likely congregating of people for the good warm purposes of being together for the holidays," Dr Fauci said.

"It's very tough for people not to do that even though we advise not to, it's gonna happen."


Dr Fauci said that was the very reason that he shares President-elect Joe Biden's concern that the coming weeks in the US will be grimmer than ever.

Mr Biden said that the country's "darkest days in this battle against COVID are ahead of us, not behind us".

Over the past week, the US had an average of 189,578 new coronavirus cases per day and 2,250 deaths daily, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

As of Sunday morning, at least 19 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 332,000 people have died, according to a New York Times database.

Dr Fauci predicts a potential new high in coronavirus cases despite federal regulators' approval earlier this month of vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna that are already being administered to health care workers and nursing home residents.

On Sunday, Fauci also said that health experts are "intensively" looking at a new coronavirus strain that has emerged in the UK.

Initial studies show that the mutation is not a more serious virus "in terms of virulence", Dr Fauci said, and that it will not affect the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and is reproduced with permission

Originally published as Worst yet to come for US COVID-19 cases

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