Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Thursday the COVID-19 crisis won’t be a pandemic “for a lot longer” thanks to the promising vaccines coming down the pike.
“Certainly, it’s not going to be a pandemic for a lot longer, because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around,” he said during a virtual health conference, “Living with COVID-19,” hosted by the London-based group Chatham House.
Fauci’s comments followed news that drug manufacturer Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is reportedly 90% effective against COVID-19 infections. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases described the development as “extraordinary.”
Pfizer is expected to ask the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization by the end of November with the intention of getting the immunization to front-line workers and at-risk Americans like seniors and those with compromised immune systems.
While the development of a vaccine holds great promise, Fauci also said Thursday it’s likely Americans — and people around the world — will simply have to learn to live with COVID-19, at least seasonally.
“I doubt we’re going to eradicate this,” he explained. “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.”
Interestingly, Fauci is now echoing sentiments shared by President Donald Trump. However, when the Republican leader made similar comments, he was roundly rebuked by members of the media and his Democratic competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump frequently touted the possibility of a vaccination coming by the end of the year, even suggesting it could arrive before Election Day. While that obviously did not happen, it is noteworthy Pfizer is likely to seek an emergency use authorization before the end of the month.
Members of the media often suggested — or outright claimed — Trump was lying.
The president, who has had COVID-19, also pointed out the fact Americans are “learning to live with” the novel coronavirus, just as Fauci suggested Thursday. Nevertheless, Trump was rebuked for the statement, which he made during the second presidential debate in late October.
“We have no choice,” Trump said, but to accept COVID-19 is likely here to stay. “We can’t lock ourselves in the basement,” he added.
Biden, though, used the comment to take a shot at Trump. The former vice president replied: “He says, you know, ‘We’re learning to live with it.’ People are learning to die with it. Folks at home will have an empty chair at the table this morning. … Learning to live with it? Come on. We’re dying with it.”
Earlier in the debate, Biden, who has made clear he plans to push for a universal mask mandate, also ridiculed Trump for suggesting the pandemic could soon come to an end.
“Come on,” Biden chided. “There’s not another serious scientist in the world who thinks this is gonna be over soon.”
Now, just three weeks later, Fauci said he believes the pandemic will be over soon.