Top U.S. infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci said Thursday that vaccine booster shots were «inevitable» to provide additional protection against COVID-19, but added that the data indicated most healthy, vaccinated people didn’t need them now.

During Thursday’s White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, Fauci said current data showed most vaccines were providing at least eight months of good protection. He said health officials were evaluating international and domestic case studies on boosters, and that when it was determined they were needed, they would be administered «expeditiously.»

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health,…

Meanwhile, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky reported the number of new COVID-19 cases was continuing to rise in the United States. She said the daily average of new cases was at 113,000, a 34% increase over last week. She said daily hospitalizations had risen by 31%, and that daily deaths had jumped by 22%.

Walensky said 90% of all counties across the U.S. were experiencing substantial or

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 18, 2021.

high transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. By far, most of those transmissions continue to be among the unvaccinated, she said.

Fauci said the delta variant was continuing to drive those higher numbers, and he presented new data to show the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was just as effective against the variant as other vaccines.

He cited a South African study conducted among more than 477,000 health care workers showing the vaccine to be 91% to 96% effective at preventing death from COVID-19, and 71% effective at preventing hospitalizations.

Fauci was asked if there were any data showing children are more vulnerable to the delta variant, as there have been reports of more children getting infected. Fauci said children under 12 were not yet vaccinated, so it was to be expected, as the delta variant is more transmissible, that there would be more children infected.

But he said the key to protecting children was for those who can get vaccinated do so.

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