NEW YORK - Dr. Anthony Fauci is talking one on one with CBS2's Jessica Moore about the state of the pandemic. 

Fauci opened up about the risk of easing restrictions, the things he's now comfortable doing, and his thoughts on one day becoming a grandfather.

Moore: Before we get into the nitty gritty, I want to ask you something I don't think you're asked very often: How are you doing? Are you able to breathe a little bit easier these days?

Fauci: I'm doing fine. Thank you for asking. I wouldn't say I'm breathing easy because we have been fooled by this virus so many times over the past couple years.

I believe we should expect to see an uptick in cases because we have a variant much more contagious than Omicron, and we're pulling back on some of the mitigation methods, namely the requirement for indoor masking in some places.

We've got to be careful we can't declare victory prematurely here.

Moore: In New York, we're seeing cases start to tick up again. Are we seeing a new wave, and if so, do schools and businesses have to be ready to shut down again?

Fauci: I don't want to  use the word "shut down" because that is a rather draconian concept there, to shut down.

If we do see a serious uptick we should be prepared to pivot and at least have masking in certain indoor sections.

The BA.2 variant is now the dominant strain in the U.S. Fauci says it's much more transmissible, but illness appears to be less severe. 

Fauci: The one thing we all have to be appreciative of is as long as there's virus circulating around the world there's the possibility and likelihood we're going to see more variants.

Moore: Let's talk about vaccines for kids under 5. Why is approval taking so long, and should parents be concerned? 

Fauci: No, I think parents should be encouraged by that. Because what the FDA does is very carefully scrutinize the data for optimal safety and efficacy.

When they get data sufficient to make a decision, I think you and other parents like yourself should feel comfortable that it's the right thing to do.

Moore: You've said in the past if you had grandchildren, you'd advocate they get vaccinated. Do you stand by that? Even for little ones, like 1 or 2 years old?

Fauci: No doubt, if I had grandchildren. I wish I did, but I don't yet.

Moore: I can see it, "grandpa Fauci." 

Fauci: Grandpa Fauci, yes. I certainly would encourage my daughters to have their children vaccinated.

Moore: As you well know, COVID has been so highly politicized. What does that say about the future of health care in the country?

Fauci: I have never seen anything even close to this, with divisiveness in our country which has spilled over into the public health arena, where decisions and even recommendations by politicians are made about vaccines and masks that are contrary to good health principles.

That should not happen. The common enemy is the virus, let's focus on the virus not the political divisiveness that is becoming very strident in this country. 

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