Dr. Fauci says the US could experience a fifth wave in COVID-19 infections as health officials warn about spread of Omicron

By Yelena Dzhanova

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned that the US might enter a fifth wave as the threat of the new Omicron variant looms. 

"We certainly have the potential to go into a fifth wave," Fauci, the nation's topmost COVID-19 expert, told CBS News' "Face the Nation." "And the fifth wave, or the magnitude of any increase, if you want to call it that it will turn into a wave, will really be dependent upon what we do in the next few weeks to a couple of months."

He once again urged that Americans get vaccinated against the coronavirus, adding that they should opt for booster shots as well. 

"If we do that successfully in a very intensive way, we can mitigate any increase," Fauci said.

"If we don't do it successfully, it is certainly conceivable and maybe likely that we will see another bit of a surge," he added. "How bad it gets is dependent upon us and how we mitigate."

So far, a little more than 59% of the total US population is vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Fauci has previously said that the US needs to get up to around 90% in order to achieve herd immunity.

Fauci's latest remarks come as the nation prepares to deal with the threat of the Omicorn variant. 

Scientists and health officials are warning the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, could spread easily across the world. It has already spread to several other countries, including Israel, Belgium, England, Australia and Austria, prompting a spate of travel restrictions across Europe, Asia, and North America, Insider's Aria Bendix reported. A health official said on Saturday that two cases of the variant have been detected in the UK. And Fauci himself has said that it's likely to have already touched down here.

The Omicorn, labeled a "variant of concern," by the World Health Organization, poses a threat because of its unique mutations, which might withstand antibodies developed in the body after a COVID vaccine. 

It's not clear yet whether existing COVID-19 vaccines will protect against the variant. But vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer and Moderna, have already begun considering their options.