Top U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci now predicts that the country will not return to a “strong semblance of normality” until the fall, and that it will require tremendous effort to increase the speed of vaccine distribution to make that possible.
U.S. health officials expected to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, but only managed to inoculate around a quarter of that figure before the year’s end.
Fauci, the media darling director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who advises President Donald Trump as part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that the number of shots should go up by spring with increased efforts to deploy the vaccination nationwide.
“I would say end of March, beginning of April, so let’s say in April, it will be what I call open season, namely anybody who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated,” said Fauci in an online interview with California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“If we then diligently vaccinate people in April, May, June, July, that we will gradually and noticeably get a degree of protection approaching herd immunity, which I believe — first of all, no one really knows what absolute herd immunity is for coronavirus. We know what it is for measles because we have decades of experience with measles. So I would say it’s somewhere between 70% and 85%.”
“I believe that if we do the kind of vaccines through April, May, June, July, that by the time we get to the early fall, we will have enough good herd immunity to be able to really get back to some strong semblance of normality. Schools, theatres, sports events, restaurants, I believe if we do it correctly, we will be there by the early fall,” Fauci said.
Prior to the winter holidays, Fauci estimated that it could take up to a 90 per cent vaccination rate for herd immunity to be established in the United States to end the pandemic, which could take until the middle of summer or longer to achieve.