“Our focus should be on preparation, not on panic,” he told Fox News Sunday.
A new BA.2 subvariant of Covid-19 has led to a sharp rise in case numbers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and a number of other European nations.
It is deemed almost inevitable by health experts that the variant will cause a spike in cases in the US that cannot be ignored, according to Dr Murthy. He added that the US is in a much better position than it was two years ago.
“We should be prepared that Covid hasn’t gone away. There may be rises and falls in the months ahead, but here’s the key: Our goal is to keep people out of the hospital, it’s to save their lives. We have more tools to do that than ever before.” he said.
He added: “If we get people these tools — vaccines, boosters, treatments — then we can actually get through waves that may come and go.”
Dr Murthy was asked if the recent positive tests of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and Irish Taoiseach Michael Martin might indicate that the federal government in Washington DC was moving on too quickly from Covid precautions.
“I don’t think we can afford to move on,” he replied, “but I do think that we can move forward with more confidence, that we can live our lives and not let Covid define our lives, because we do have in fact better tools that have proven to save our lives and keep us out of the hospital and that’s really the goal.”
Infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci concurred with Dr Murthy during a Sunday morning appearance on ABC’s This Week.
He predicted an “uptick” in Covid infections similar to that seen in Europe, even as cases, hospitalisations and deaths are currently declining in the US.
The BA.2 sub-variant is a more contagious version of the Omicron variant but like the latter, it causes less-severe illness in the majority of people it infects.
Dr Fauci said it’s “no time at all to declare victory, because this virus has fooled us before and we really must be prepared for the possibility that we might get another variant.”
He added: “We don’t want to be caught flat-footed on that.”
BA.2 currently accounts for just under 40 per cent of cases in the Greater New York region and approximately 20 per cent nationwide according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.