Fauci: Coronavirus won’t be a pandemic for ‘a lot longer’ thanks to vaccines
Anthony Fauci said Thursday the global coronavirus outbreak will not be a pandemic for “a lot longer” because of the development of vaccines, striking a hopeful note even as the situation worsens in the short term.
“Certainly it’s not going to be pandemic for a lot longer because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around,” Fauci said at an event hosted by the think tank Chatham House.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that while the virus will likely cease raging across the globe as it is now, it could circulate quietly below the surface, at least in certain areas.
“Putting it to rest doesn’t mean eradicating it,” he said. “I doubt we’re going to eradicate this, I think we need to plan that this is something we may need to maintain control over chronically, it may be something that becomes endemic that we have to just be careful about.”
Still, Fauci clearly thinks that vaccines will be a major boost in the fight against the virus. Pfizer reported this week that an interim analysis shows its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective, higher than expectations. Moderna said trial results for its own vaccine candidate may be available by the end of the month.
In the meantime, though, coronavirus infections in the U.S. and around the globe are surging. Case numbers are rising in every single state, the U.S. this week set a single-day high for new infections and a record number of people are hospitalized with the disease.
Still, Fauci said knowing an end is in sight is all the more reason to keep up precautions like mask-wearing, distancing, and washing hands in the short term.
The general public in the U.S. could start getting a vaccine sometime in the spring, officials have said, and high priority groups like health care workers and the elderly, as soon as December.
“Ever since it became clear a few days ago that we have a really quite effective vaccine getting ready to deploy, [the message] is rather than ‘Hey don’t worry you’re OK,’ it’s ‘Don’t stop shooting, the cavalry is coming but don’t put your weapons down, you better keep fighting because they’re not here yet,’ ” Fauci said.