Dr. Anthony Fauci has a much better estimate for when the US will beat the coronavirus pandemic and returning to normal. It can happen as early as summer 2021 or next fall, instead of late next year.
It all hinges on the willingness of Americans to step up to the plate and get vaccinated quickly. A large percentage of the population will have to be vaccinated for the country to reach herd immunity.
Vaccines will be widely available beginning in April 2021 after the high-risk groups are immunized, said Fauci.
Just as the FDA approved the first coronavirus vaccine on Friday, the US recorded the single worst day of the pandemic so far. Both the number of new cases (231,775) and the number of deaths (3,309) are world records. Hospitalizations are nearing 110,000, another record-high. The US isn’t the only country in the northern hemisphere experiencing devastating coronavirus outbreaks this winter, with the virus raging in several European countries as well. But most of Europe has imposed some type of lockdown to curb the infection rate ahead of the holidays, and their daily COVID-19 stats aren’t comparable to America’s. The aftermath of Thanksgiving gatherings in the US is starting to appear, and health experts fear that the upcoming Christmas holiday will fuel another surge on top of the existing one.
It’s not all bad news, however. Vaccines are starting to roll out and they’ll allow authorities to save more lives in the coming months and reduce the spread. The consensus seems to be that the pandemic might be defeated by late 2021, especially in developed countries. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who often addressed the return to normalcy in his public appearances, has a much better estimate than late 2021. But the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director said one thing needs to happen for normal life to return as early as summer or fall.
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Dr. Fauci has been warning us all summer long about what could happen during the cold season if the number of cases isn’t reduced significantly. He said the number of cases could reach 100,000 cases every day if people didn’t respect simple health measures to reduce the risk of infection. The US then topped 100,000 cases in early November for the first time, and the number of cases has been growing steadily ever since.
Fauci is now advising people to get vaccinated once the drugs are available, as vaccines will pave the way for returning to normalcy. Fauci told Chris Cuomo on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time that “some form of normality” will return as soon as the summer and definitely by the fall. But it can only happen if most people get vaccinated.
“It depends how quickly and how many people want to get vaccinated,” the NIAID expert said. “If we have a smooth vaccination program where everybody steps to the plate quickly, we could get back to some form of normality reasonably quickly into the summer and certainly into the fall.”
Fauci explained that vaccines would be available to at-risk groups by March. Then, by April, it will be “open season” on vaccines. “Anyone, even the non-high-priority groups, could get vaccinated,” he told Cuomo. Fauci said as much in previous interviews where he was asked when vaccines will be widely available.
Dr. Fauci expects that by “the end of the second quarter into the summer” and the fall, the US will have a “veil of protective herd immunity that will really essentially protect all the vulnerable.”
The public health expert also addressed schools, saying that he hopes all children can return to school by fall. But it’s too early to say whether there will be any graduation festivities to enjoy in spring and summer. Fauci said that it all hinges on people’s willingness to step up to the plate and get vaccinated quickly.
Fauci explained — again — that people will need to wear face masks for the foreseeable future, even after getting vaccines. As long as there’s virus in the community, people can still get infected after being vaccinated and they can carry the virus in the nose and throat. What vaccines will do is to protect against the clinical manifestations of the illness — that’s what the 95% efficacy rate refers to. They’ll also prevent severe COVID-19 in nearly 100% of cases. But if vaccinated people can still carry and spread the virus, they’ll need to wear masks to protect others.
“We as a nation need to continue to wear the mask, to keep the physical distance, to avoid crowds,” Fauci said. “We’re not through with this just because we’re starting a vaccine program.”
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