Dr. Anthony Fauci is now predicting that America won’t return to “a strong semblance of normality” until the Fall, and even that will take Herculean efforts to increase the speed of vaccine distribution.
U.S. health officials had hoped to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020 but fell well short, inoculating about 5 million people.
Fauci, an immunologist and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that should pick up by Spring.
“I would say end of March, beginning of April, so let’s say in April, it will be what I call open season, namely anybody who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated,” Fauci said in a Facebook interview with Calfornia Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“If we then diligently vaccinate people in April, May, June, July, that we will gradually and noticeably get a degree of protection approaching herd immunity, which I believe — first of all, no one really knows what absolute herd immunity is for coronavirus. We know what it is for measles because we have decades of experience with measles. So I would say it’s somewhere between 70% and 85%.”
“I believe that if we do the kind of vaccines through April, May, June, July, that by the time we get to the early fall, we will have enough good herd immunity to be able to really get back to some strong semblance of normality. Schools, theatres sports events, restaurants, I believe if we do it correctly, we will be there by the early fall,” Fauci said.
Just before Christmas, Fauci moved the goalposts, saying it could take up to 90% herd immunity across the U.S. to end the COVID-19 pandemic and said then it could take until mid-summer 2021 or longer to reach that number.
Experts have repeatedly said the magic number was 60% to 70% herd immunity, which means so many people are carrying antibodies for the virus that spread drops off precipitously.
But Fauci has upped that number in recent weeks. He said that he didn’t reveal his new higher estimate until now because he feared Americans might not take the COVID-19 vaccine.
When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” Fauci told The New York Times. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”
Then he went even higher.
“We need to have some humility here. We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I’m not going to say 90 percent,” he said. Fauci told the Times he was raising the number “partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.”