Dr Anthony Fauci, a senior member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, has warned that Americans may have to practice social distancing for more than they may have initially expected.
Asked on NBC’s “Today” show how long Americans will need to continue staying at home and away from gatherings of more than a handful of people, Dr Fauci cautioned against too much optimism.
“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, it's at least going to be several weeks.
“I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that. I think it’s going to be several weeks.”
He issued his advice just after California governor Gavin Newsom issued a “shelter in place” order, compelling his state’s more than 40m residents to stay in their homes unless absolutely necessary. The governor has also told Donald Trump that he expects 56 per cent of his state’s inhabitants to contract the virus.
Aside from social distancing, Dr Fauci also contradicted Mr Trump’s erroneous claim that a commonly used malaria drug, chloroquine, had been proven to cure coronavirus and would shortly be available with FDA approval.
Asked about Mr Trump’s claim by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Dr Fauci downplayed the hope expressed by the president – and made clear that while there is anecdotal evidence the drug may help combat the coronavirus, it is nowhere being approved for that use.
“I don’t think it was necessarily described as a game-changer, but let’s make sure people understand what it is. Today, there are no proven safe and effective therapies for the coronavirus.
“That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to do everything we can to make things that have even a hint of efficacy more readily available, so long as you do it in the context of some sort of protocol that would take a look at getting some information about safety and efficacy.
“But there is no magic drug out there right now.”
Anchor Anderson Cooper pressed him to be clear on what concerned consumers should do. “People should not go to their doctor and say ‘I want chloroquine because I hear that may work’, is that correct?”
Fauci replied: “Yeah, that’s correct … People are going to do it anyway, but as a matter of principle, to go just out and say ‘prescribe this for me’, what that would do would probably deplete the supplies for the people who might need it if it shows to be working.”
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