The leading US infectious disease specialist, Dr Anthony Fauci foresees America achieving enough collective Covid-19 immunity through vaccinations to regain “some semblance of normality” by autumn 2021, despite early setbacks in the vaccine roll-out.
Fauci made his remarks during an online discussion of the pandemic with California Governor Gavin Newsom this week. That came as the US reported 3,900 more people had died of Covid-19, a daily record.
On Thursday, the US death toll was 345,000 out of almost 20 million infections reported since the pandemic began.
Federal health officials also admitted that the roll-out of the vaccine has been slower than expected, with just less than 2.8 million doses administered as of Wednesday, according to the Centres for Disease Control. More than 12 million doses have been distributed around the country.
Officials initially said they planned to have 20 million people vaccinated by the end of 2020.
Here are some of Fauci’s thoughts on what 2021 might look like:
Schools can safely reopen
Fauci said the coronavirus acts very differently from the flu when it comes to children.
With the coronavirus, children seem to have lower levels of infection than the broader community.
“That was almost counterintuitive, but it’s turning out to be that way,” Fauci said.
“What we should do is to do everything to support the maintenance of the children in school. … If you really want to get society back to some form of normality, one of the first things we have to do is to get the children back in school.”
Vaccines for broader public
Initial distribution of the vaccine to the top priority group, including health care workers and people in nursing homes, has been slower than initially promised. But Fauci said there’s a sense that by January, there will be greater momentum, and the pace of inoculations will accelerate.
Before the general public gets the vaccine, though, there are other priority groups who are next in line. It will likely be the end of March or the beginning of April before the vaccine is available to everyone.
At that point, the race will be on to get as many people vaccinated through the spring and summer, with the goal to have everyone vaccinated by the time cooler weather arrives next fall.