The U.S. is “still in pandemic mode” with new COVID-19 infections some 16 times higher than what’s needed to end the public health crisis, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with Axios published Thursday that “the endgame is to suppress the virus.” But 160,000 new cases of the coronavirus per day is “not even modestly good control,” he declared.

“In a country of our size, you can’t be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day,” Fauci explained. “You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable.”

Last month, Fauci said the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant — responsible for a surge in infections, especially among unvaccinated people — could be largely contained by the spring of 2022 if an “overwhelming majority” receive the shot.

With more people inoculated with the vaccines, Fauci said, “you’ll still get some people getting infected, but you’re not going to have it as a public health threat.”

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