During an interview with British think tank Chatham House on Wednesday, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said that while the end of the pandemic is in sight, the worst may still be yet to come.
In an interview with the British policy institute Chatham House on Wednesday, Fauci said Americans should have reserved excitement regarding an impending vaccine.
His comments came just days after Pfizer announced that it's vaccine candidate was 90% effective in Phase 3 trials and is on track for an Emergency Use Authorization application. But the comments also came as the U.S. in the midst of the largest spike in new cases since the pandemic began as well as an uptick in deaths and hospitalizations.
"I look at the vaccine is that help is coming and it's coming soon," Fauci said. "...for the time being, we have to adhere to the public health measures, and I hope that the fact that people realize that help is on the way in the form of a vaccine and soon, that that would get them to be even more motivated to do the public health measures."
Despite the spike in cases, Fauci stressed that he does not believe the U.S. would require another shutdown in order to get things under control. Instead, he pointed to five public health measures everyone should take to avoid spreading the virus.
- Wear a mask
- Keep social distance
- Avoid large gatherings
- Consistent handwashing
- Avoiding indoor bars, restaurants and similar businesses — while allowing outdoor seating
Public health experts believe that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available to some in high-risk populations before the new year, but won't be widely available until spring or summer 2021. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Fauci said he expects a vaccine to be widely available in April.
But despite the likelihood of a vaccine in the near future, Fauci believes COVID-19 is something the world will likely be living with for years to come. He told Chatham House officials that while he believes the world will be able to control the virus with vaccines, he's not sure if it will ever be completely eradicated.
"I doubt we are going to eradicate this. I think we need to plan that this is something we may need to maintain control over chronically. It may be something that becomes endemic, that we have to just be careful about," he said. "Certainly, it is not going to be a pandemic for a lot longer because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around."
Fauci added that while his administration has faced other infectious diseases that have yet to be eradicated like HIV, anthrax, Ebola and Zika, those diseases have been essentially "put to rest" — still spreading, but at a manageable rate.