Companies like Moderna and Pfizer have given people hope that a successful coronavirus vaccine is just around the corner, which means an end to the coronavirus pandemic is presumably within sight, too.

The head of the World Health Organization, however, weighed in on Monday, stressing in public remarks that a vaccine alone won’t bring about an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci chimed in as well, reminding people in a new interview that we’ll still need to adhere to public measures like wearing face masks for a period of time after the first coronavirus vaccine has arrived.

Moderna stunned everyone on Monday, with the promising news that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective so far, adding another reason to be hopeful — along with the recent news that Pfizer’s forthcoming mRNA-based vaccine is almost as effective. However, the head of the World Health Organization also decided to weigh in on Monday to share a dose of reality with everyone, stressing that a vaccine like those won’t bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic all by itself. “We still have a long road to travel,” warned WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

That’s because a vaccine is worthless until it’s actually used — meaning, enough people actually have to take the vaccine for it to be effective. So there is a huge vaccination campaign that still needs to get underway. And even while that’s occurring, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging people to keep a few other things in mind while the vaccine is filtering through society: Don’t plan on abandoning the wearing of face masks or social distancing practices anytime soon.

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“Obviously, with a (more than 90%)-effective vaccine, you could feel much more confident,” Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper over the weekend. “But I would recommend to people to not abandon all public health measures just because you have been vaccinated. Because even though, for the general population, it might be 90 to 95% effective, you don’t necessarily know, for you, how effective it is.”

That’s why Dr. Fauci said he plans to keep following the public health measures that are in place now himself even after he, too, has been vaccinated.

“I could feel more relaxed, in essentially not having the stringency of it that we have right now, but I think abandoning it completely would not be a good idea,” he said.

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In the same interview, Tapper also asked Dr. Fauci whether it will be safe for people to gather with family for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas this same time next year.

“It depends on a number of factors,” Fauci replied.

“We are not going to turn it on and off, going from where we are to completely normal. It’s going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by, as we get well into 2021.” Thankfully, though, he added that the normalcy that Americans are hoping for could be at least partially in place in the second or third quarter of next year. But, again, that’s dependent on our continued adherence to the things we’ve been living with this year, like wearing face masks, avoid crowds, and the like.
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