Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday warned against declaring premature victory against the coronavirus, with daily new infections hovering around the 60,000-mark as GOP-run states relax restrictions.

“We’ve come down to a level that plateaued and is not continuing to go down,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

It “puts you at considerable risk of rebounding up,” cautioned Fauci, noting how it’s “essentially, what they’re seeing in Europe” where some countries are now experiencing another wave of the virus.

With around 3 million people now being vaccinated in the United States every day, Fauci said, “every day that goes by, we get closer and closer to a greater degree of protection.”

“So, now is just not the time to pull back and declare premature victory,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top medical adviser of President Joe Biden. “It’s just not the time. Hang in there a bit longer, we’re going to get through this as more people get vaccinated there’s going to be a greater umbrella of protection over society.”

“That’s why we’re saying over and over again, ‘just hang on, continue to do the public health measures and then we can pull back later when we get a greater degree of protection from the vaccines,’” he added.

Watch the interview here:

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued a similar warning Monday. “I’m going to lose the script and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” said Walensky. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now I’m scared.”

Fauci, later in the “Cuomo Prime Time” interview, defended immunology expert Dr. Deborah Birx over criticism she is receiving for failing to stand up to then-President Donald Trump’s coronavirus misinformation during her time on the Trump White House’s COVID-19 task force.

“You know, Chris, she was in a tough situation,” Fauci told Cuomo. “You really need to understand, she was living in the White House. She had an office in the lower level of the West Wing. And I guess, obviously, you say she could have done more, but it was really tough on her. She was a military person. She understands the chain of command.”

“I think if you ask her now, she probably would say she should have done more, but you really need to cut her some slack, the way I do,” Fauci added. “She was in a tough situation.”

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