Fauci says coronavirus his 'worst nightmare' and far from over

The country's top infectious disease doctor, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Overnight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines Average US daily COVID-19 cases below 40K for first time since September MORE, on Tuesday said the novel coronavirus is his "worst nightmare" and warned that it is far from over.

During a previously taped interview at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization's annual conference, Fauci said the virus met all four criteria for a nightmare scenario — it is new, respiratory-borne, easily transmissible, and has a significant degree of illness or mortality.

Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the virus surprised him with "how rapidly it just took over the planet."

"This took about a month to go around the world," Fauci said. "When is it going to end? We're still at the beginning of it."

Fauci said other outbreaks such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), HIV and Ebola "had a degree of containment and finiteness to them from the very beginning," he said.

SARS in particular was not nearly as contagious and "burned itself out by pure public health measures," Fauci said.

Fauci spent most of his career studying HIV and said that “it's really simple compared to what’s going on with COVID-19.” 

"We're at almost the beginning of understanding" the disease, especially the long-term effects, he said.

Speaking directly to industry executives, Fauci applauded the public-private collaboration and said he was confident there will be “more than one winner in the vaccine field because we will need vaccines for the entire world, billions and billions of doses.” 

While concerns have been raised about the pricing of any potential vaccine or therapeutic, Fauci said the government won't be able to force companies to set a specific price. 

“When you’re dealing with something that has to have some kind of economic return, you have to have some degree of profit," Fauci said, as long as the drug is accessible. 

“I’ve never seen a successful attempt at doing [price] controls,” he added.