NIH chief says people would find best response to coronavirus 'too drastic'

NIH chief says people would find best response to coronavirus 'too drastic'
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Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told USA Today in an interview published Thursday that a total lockdown might be the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but Americans would find that step to be "too drastic."

When asked if the U.S. should be on total lockdown in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, Collins replied: "It's so hard to answer that but what I would say is what Anthony Fauci [director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] has said a few times in recent days and that is that the approach we should be taking right now is one that most people would find to be too drastic because otherwise it is not drastic enough."

Collins also said that Americans should not expect a viable vaccine for the virus anytime soon, despite the fact that scientists all over the world have been scrambling to develop one.

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"We are flat out on this. But everyone needs to recognize that even flat out for a vaccine means we're a year to a year-and-a-half away," Collins said.

"And that would be breaking the record by a factor of three or so given how long it usually takes to get something fully ready to be distributed to the public."

Collins noted that testing has begun, but there are still many more hurdles to clear in the vaccine process.

Additionally, the NIH head said that it remains to be seen if the U.S. can avoid a situation similar to the one in Italy, where more than 3,400 people have died from the virus.

"Let's be clear: There's going to be a very rough road in the weeks and months ahead of us," Collins said.

"If we did everything right today, you would still see the numbers going up over the next two weeks because of what's out there already. We can't change that. But, what we might be able to do is change what's going to happen three or four weeks from now. That's our challenge," he added.