Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday the U.S. should return to “some form of normality” by the start of next autumn if the coronavirus vaccination campaign reaches the general population by April.
Dr. Fauci said it will take “several months” to get to everyone who wants the shots, probably around late summer. Recipients then will produce a shield of immunity over the nation.
He also said he doesn’t feel bad about moving the goalposts in public comments on the share of Americans who must be immunized to achieve herd immunity to the virus within U.S. society. He started around 60% to 70% before nudging it as high as 85% as he monitored public acceptance of the vaccine.
“The bottom line is it’s a guesstimate. I gave a range,” Dr. Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
During the interview, he settled on 75% to 85% as his best estimate of the share of U.S. residents who need to roll up their sleeves.
For now, the nation is recording more than 200,000 new cases and 2,000 deaths per day, on average, and more than 100,000 people are spending the post-Christmas days in the hospital due to COVID-19.
Dr. Fauci expects the coronavirus pandemic to get worse in the post-Christmas period due to the high baseline of transmission and the inevitable mixing of households and travelers over the holiday period.
“Even though we advise not to [travel], it’s gonna happen,” he told CNN. “As we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse.”
He also said scientists are closely tracking a fast-moving variant of the virus that’s appeared in the United Kingdom and spread to other countries. He’s not worried, at this point, that it can elude the efficacy of approved vaccines.
“That does not seem to be the case,” Dr. Fauci said. “Having said that, you take something like this very seriously.”
Dr. Fauci said it was “prudent” for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to require a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of boarding.
He said people “could argue” about whether the restrictions should have been imposed before Christmas but he wouldn’t take a position on it.