Story at a glance
- In a Thursday interview, Anthony Fauci clarifies that a mixture of good public health practices and a vaccine will help reduce coronavirus transmission.
- He forecasts that late-2021 will be when society can start to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
Public health experts and government officials continue to forecast potential timelines for when society will return to pre-pandemic life. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s lead infectious diseases expert and head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, maintains that the coronavirus crisis is likely to end in late 2021.
Speaking with Business Insider, Fauci doubled down on his prediction that people can resume normal socializing by the end of next year — if a safe and effective vaccine is available.
“I believe that by the time we get to the end of 2021, if everyone gets vaccinated and we continue to implement the public-health measures that I have been talking about incessantly over the last several months — they’re not universally adhered to — if we do that, plus the vaccine, we’ll get to the point where the level of virus will be so low, and maybe even, you know, close to absent,” he told Insider’s Hilary Brueck.
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While a vaccine may be ready by the end of 2020, doses will be limited, and initial doses will likely be prioritized and given to vulnerable populations, such as frontline health care workers. After that, Fauci says hundreds of millions in the U.S. will still need to be vaccinated.
In addition to discussing what socializing in the winter will look like as well as his own routine, Fauci addressed the mounting concern that political pressure will hasten the approval of a vaccine prior to obtaining sufficient data guaranteeing its safety and efficacy.
He specifically debunked the idea that speed equates to recklessness.
“I think people need to understand that speed is not related to a compromise of safety nor to a compromise of scientific integrity,” Fauci explained. “The fact that we’ve been able to move so fast is a real reflection of the extraordinary technological advances that have been made in the development of vaccines.”
Fauci largely attributed the ability to move so quickly in developing a treatment for the coronavirus to technological innovation. He stated that growing or sequencing a virus to make a vaccine used to take years, but can now be done within weeks or months. So the fact that a vaccine could be ready in such a short time frame relative to how long vaccines usually take to develop is not necessarily a sign of safety being compromised.
Notably, however, Fauci emphasizes that a combination of both a vaccine and adherence to public health protocols will be key to beating back COVID-19.
“You never should abandon the public-health measures. And the intensity of the public-health measures would depend on the level of infection in the community.”
Multiple drug manufacturers such as Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have vaccine candidates in stage three clinical trials and are funded by the Trump administration as part of Operation Warp Speed.
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