Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested last week that even if a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols will likely continue into 2022.
Speaking about the future of COVID-19 to Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University’s faculty, staff, and students via Zoom, Fauci said herd immunity would still take time to achieve even with a vaccine, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“It’s not going to be the way it was with polio and measles, where you get a vaccine, case closed, it’s done,” Fauci said. “It’s going to be public-health measures that linger for months and months.”
“You’re not going to have a profound degree of herd immunity for a considerable period of time, maybe toward the end of 2021, into 2022,” Fauci continued. “I feel very strongly that we’re going to need to have some degree of public-health measures to continue. Maybe not as stringent as they are right now.”
Fauci drew a distinction between lockdown measures, which he has said he does not believe will have to be implemented again, and preventative measures such as masks and social distancing.
“You can do this without shutting down the country. There’s a misunderstanding,” he said. “You can cautiously and prudently continue to try to open up the country and open the economy.”
Citing the weight his words have taken since the outbreak of the pandemic, Fauci was unwilling to answer a question from John Zurlo, Jefferson’s chief of infectious diseases, who asked him to offer his opinion regarding which potential vaccine seemed most promising.
“John, I sneeze and the stock market moves,” Fauci said. “I’m not going to tell you anything. I don’t even know. It would be foolish to predict what is going to be better. The proof is in the pudding.”
President Donald Trump has publicly criticized Fauci in recent weeks. As The Daily Wire reported:
President Donald Trump continued to hammer Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday, saying his “pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications.”
For background, Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, threw out an errant first pitch at a Washington Nationals game this summer.
“Actually, Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications. ‘No problem, no masks.’ WHO no longer likes Lockdowns – just came out against. Trump was right. We saved 2,000,000 USA lives!!!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump was hitting Fauci for his past comments on masks. In early March, Fauci told “60 Minutes” that face masks were not necessary for the general population amid the COVID-19 outbreak, noting that while masks might make people “feel a little bit better,” they don’t provide the protection folks believe they do and might create “unintended consequences.”
“There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” the infectious disease expert said then. “Wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And often, there are unintended consequences; people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
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