Reports are emerging that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available by the end of the year, prompting Dr. Anthony Fauci to advise Americans that returning to normal life is still a long way away. In a question and answer session in late September with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Fauci, the face of the Trump administration’s coronavirus team, explained that Americans should expect social distance guidelines and societal precautions to remain paramount even when a vaccine becomes available.
“The vaccine availability will go a giant step to controlling the infection, but you’re not going to completely eradicate it or eliminate it,” Fauci said. “It will allow us to more quickly and with less stringency get back to some degree of normal but it is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures.”
Fauci believes it’s possible the world could get a successful vaccine by late November, but it’s more likely we’ll know in “November or December.” Even then, many Americans say they’ll initially stay away from the vaccine and Fauci believes it will only be “70-75% effective.”
Fauci’s comments came after the CDC laid out its extensive COVID-19 vaccine release plan. Once a vaccine becomes available, the hope is to funnel much of the supply to high-risk communities. From there, larger population distribution will depend on large scale efforts to erect sites for public distribution and to accumulate an adequate supply of needles, syringes, and bottles.
In earlier comments to MSNBC, Fauci said these hurdles largely discredited President Trump’s belief that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on coronavirus. Fauci called the comments “disturbing” and advised Americans to expect normal activities—like going to the movies and seeing live music—to return somewhere in middle or end of 2021. If a vaccine is not produced in this timeline, it could take even longer for life to return to normal.
“Theoretically, you could vaccinate everybody then but in reality, the logistics and practicality of getting people vaccinated likely will be until the second or third or beginning of the fourth quarter of the year when we sort of ‘get back to normal,’” Fauci told Murphy.
Meanwhile, Fauci continues to face death threats for his work, while Trump in October called him a “disaster.”
The World Health Organization’s chief scientist isn’t as optimistic as Fauci. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said it’ll be 2022 before people begin building immunity through a vaccine.
According to the CDC, once a vaccine becomes available, the institute aims to avoid any out of pocket expenses for the American public. “The CDC’s goal is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine for all in the United States who wish to be vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.
Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 in the early hours of Oct. 2. In the aftermath, more than a dozen other people in the Trump circle, including his son, were infected.
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