The top US infectious disease expert says that based on recent seven-day averages, coronavirus infections may be about to hit a plateau in the United States.
At a White House news briefing on Thursday, Dr Anthony Fauci also said coronavirus vaccines can be modified to account for new variants of the virus, and while the South Africa variant was concerning, it did not appear to be in the United States.
COVID-19 has spiralled out of control for months, with the US death toll having exceeded 400,000.
Fauci said he expected current vaccines would be effective against the recently discovered virus mutations.
"Bottom line: we're paying very close attention to it for our alternative plans if we have to ever modify the vaccine," he said. "But right now, from the reports we have ... it appears that the vaccines will still be effective against them."
Fauci was tasked by President Joe Biden to give an update on the pandemic after largely being sidelined in recent months by former president Donald Trump.
Fauci said the new administration would "be completely open and honest" in dealing with the pandemic and, in an implicit rebuke to the Trump administration, said everything now would be "based on science and evidence".
He also said in the Biden administration, the rule would be "if you don't know the answer, don't guess".
Reuters with AP
Australian Associated Press