Fauci Says We Won't Have COVID Contained Next Year Without These 2 Things

The expert just revealed where he thinks the U.S. will be with the disease in 12 months' time.

Early this year, even as worries started to mount about the threat of COVID-19, there was still a prevailing hope (at least among non-experts) that the pandemic could be gotten under control within a few months. Now it's August, there's no end to the U.S.'s struggle with the coronavirus in sight, and the timeline seems to only be getting longer. During a live-streamed interview hosted by National Geographic on Thursday, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was asked where he thinks we'll be with the disease in August of 2021. To be "in a good place" with COVID-19 next year, Fauci said, the U.S. will need two things. 

"There is a lot of concern about this fall and this winter whether we're going to see an uptick again in the novel coronavirus," moderator Deborah Roberts of ABC News said to the infectious disease specialist. "Look into your crystal ball if you would for me: A year from now, where do you think we'll be? Will we have this thing under control or will we still be social distancing and wearing masks?"

In his answer, Fauci narrowed down the necessities for success. Firstly, our ability to contain the disease is "going to depend on the success of vaccines," he said. He repeated his refrain of being "cautiously optimistic" that the U.S. will have at least one effective and safe vaccine by the end of the year, though he added, "I've been doing this long enough to never ever guarantee success when you're dealing with vaccines." He also explained that vaccines for respiratory illnesses have a lower rate of effectiveness than those for other diseases, using the flu shot as an example. (A flu shot lowers your risk of getting the flu during flu season, but it doesn't eliminate it.) Fauci said that he'd be happy with a COVID vaccine that's anywhere from 50 to 75 percent effective.

"Not that you could throw caution to the wind and do nothing else but get vaccinated," he cautioned. "[That effective rate] means the vaccine would be very, very helpful and a very important additional tool—additional to public health measures—to get us out of this pandemic and back to a normal existence."

As that statement hints, the second thing that needs to happen in order for the U.S. to have control of COVID by next year is for the population to accept personal responsibility for getting cases down, in Fauci's opinion. He mentioned the five fundamentals he's been pushing for the last few weeks: washing hands, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, not going to bars, and maintaining social distance.

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"A lot of it is gonna be up to us as citizens to uniformly adhere to public health principals at the same time that we're fortunate enough to have good therapies and a vaccine that's effective," he said. "If we do, we will be in a good place by his time next year."

With these two things in place, Fauci explained, we'll have the ability to "get the level of infection so low that we can successfully contain any little blips that occur and prevent those blips from becoming surges the way we have seen and are seeing in certain states." Though he does not seem to believe that COVID will be eliminated by next August, the U.S. could have it contained to a point that we can mostly resume normal life. And for more from the country's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Fauci Just Said the Words About Coronavirus You've Been Dreading.

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