WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Anthony Fauci’s return to the White House briefing room was a joyous occasion as he celebrated his freedom from President Donald J. Trump, but warned Americans that they’re not out of the woods yet and it may not be until at least the fall when the country can return to normal.
“If we get 70 to 85% of the country vaccinated, let’s say by the end of the summer, middle of the summer, I believe by the time we get to the fall, we will be approaching a degree of normality. It’s not going to be perfectly normal, but one that I think will take a lot of pressure off the American public,” Fauci said.
Fauci said President Joe Biden’s plan of getting 100 million people vaccinated, in 100 days thanks to President Trump’s “War Speed” effort is an attainable goal.
“I believe that the goal that was set by the President of getting 100 million people vaccinated in the first 100 days is quite a reasonable goal. And when you get to the point, and one of the things that I think is something we need to pay attention to, and I quite frankly have been spending a considerable amount of my own time is outreaching, particularly to minority communities to make sure that you get them to be vaccinated. And you explain why it’s so important for themselves, their family, and their community,” Fauci said.
He also gave a grim reminder that we are currently at the height of the pandemic as numbers across the country continue to skyrocket.
“I mean, to have over 400,000 deaths is something that is unfortunately historic in the very bad sense. When you look at the number of new infections that we have, it’s still at a very, very high rate. Hospitalizations are up there are certain areas of the country, as I think you’re all familiar with, which are really stressed from the standpoint of beds, from the standpoint of the stress on the healthcare system,” he added.
Fauci also warned Americans about the “Mutants”, mutated strain of the COVID-19 virus that could circumvent the vaccination process, but so far, he said, the mutations are still not enough to worry about when it comes to vaccination. He was asked specifically about a new troubling “South African” variant of COVID-19.
“That is, what is it about these mutants that you’re hearing about. The mutants in the U.K., which we know are in about 20 plus states, the mutants that we’re seeing in South Africa and in Brazil. First of all, we need to understand that RNA viruses like coronaviruses mutate all the time. Most of the mutations don’t have any physiological relevance with regard to the function of the virus itself,” he said. “Thus far, it does not appear at all that the South African strain is in the United States. However, we must be honest and say that the level of comprehensive sequenced surveillance thus far is not at the level that we would have liked. So we’re going to be looking very, very carefully for it. But given the information we have today, it doesn’t appear that the South African strain is here.”
Fauci says mutations are a real possibility, which is why it’s critical because he said without the spread of the current virus, it cannot mutate.
“Because someone could say, now, wait a minute, if you have the possibility that the vaccines are diminishing in their impact, why are we vaccinating people? No, it is all the more reason why we should be vaccinating as many people as you possibly can, because as long as the virus is out there replicating, viruses don’t mutate unless they replicate,” he added. “And if you can suppress that by a very good vaccine campaign, then you could actually avoid this deleterious effect that you might get from the mutations. Bottom line, we’re paying very close attention to it. There are alternative plans, if we ever have to modify the vaccine. That is not something that is a very onerous thing, we can do that given the platforms we have. But right now, from the reports we have, literally as of today, it appears that the vaccines will still be effective against them. With the caveat in mind, you want to pay close attention to it.”