For Americans who have been hunkering down since March, the future doesn’t look so bright, at least according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci, an immunologist and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who serves on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, says it’ll be well into 2021 before things return to normal.
“We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy,” Fauci said during a discussion with doctors from Harvard Medical School.
The number of daily cases so far in September, running at about 36,000, is lower than August — but Fauci says it’s still too high. “I keep looking at that curve, and I get more depressed and more depressed about the fact that we never really get down to the baseline that I’d like,” he said.
“What I would like to see is keeping the lid on it, keeping the baseline down, until we get a vaccine,” Fauci said. “I think that’s the thing that turns it around.”
Fauci said that incidents of the virus could increase during the coming flu season. “As we get into the fall and do more indoor things, we’re likely to see upticks in COVID-19,” he said.
The doctor also said last week that some U.S. cities will see post-Labor Day increases in the number of those infected with COVID-19. “We’re right around 40,000 new cases, that’s an unacceptably high baseline,” Fauci said. “We’ve got to get it down, I’d like to see it 10,000 or less, hopefully less.”
Meanwhile, the immunologist said that vaccine trials are “progressing very well” and he once again predicted one likely will be readily available by the end of 2020 or early 2021.
Fauci, who helped lead the global response to AIDS in the 1980s, said the coronavirus is similar. “We’ve been through this before,” he said. “Don’t ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don’t try and look at the rosy side of things.”
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agrees, saying in a WebMD interview on Wednesday that Americans should brace for “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had.”
“We’re going to have COVID in the fall, and we’re going to have flu in the fall. And either one of those by themselves can stress certain hospital systems,” Redfield said.
But the CDC director said “it’s dependent on how the American people choose to respond,” he said. “It’s really the worst of times or the best of times, depending on the American public. I’m optimistic.”
“Eventually, this virus is going to have its day,” Redfield said. “It’s either going to infect a majority of the global population, or we’re going to have a biological countermeasure that’s going to be an effective vaccine.”
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