Mask use and social distancing will likely have to continue until next winter, says Dr Fauci

Dr Fauci says ‘overwhelming majority’ of Americans will need to take the vaccine

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 15 December 2020 18:08 GMT
Groups no larger than 10 people at Christmas, Dr Fauci advises

Americans will likely be social distancing and wearing masks at least through next fall, according to Dr Anthony Fauci

Dr Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said coronavirus mitigation techniques like mask usage and physical distancing will likely have to continue well into 2021.  

During a virtual event with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Dr Fauci said he does not believe that "we're going to be able to throw the masks away and forget about physical separation in congregate settings for a while, probably likely until we get into the late fall and early next winter," he said. "But I think we can do it."  

Dr Fauci said that ending the pandemic would not be like "turning a light switch on and off," and emphasised that it would take time before things return to normal, even with the release and distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.  

"It's going to be gradual, and I think we will know when we see the level of infection in the country at a dramatically lower level than it is right now that we can start gradually tiptoeing toward normality," he said.  

The first doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine were shipped out over the weekend, and on Monday videos of the first Americans to receive the shot were shared around the country.  

Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse in New York City, became the first American to take the shot. The drug was administered to her on a live stream while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo watched.  

The vaccine is being made available to healthcare workers and nursing home residents first, then essentially workers, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions, and then the broader general public.  

Dr Fauci predicted that individuals without underlying conditions would likely begin receiving the drug in late March or early April, assuming there are no significant distribution delays.  

In order for the drug to work as intended and allow Americans to return to some sense of normality, Dr Fauci cautions that an "overwhelming majority" of people in the US would need to take the drug.  

He said that if that happens, it would give researchers the ability to judge the efficacy of the immunity provided by the vaccines and provide them with an insight into whether or not receiving the coronavirus vaccine will have to be a perennial event.  

In the mean time, Dr Fauci and other health experts are urging Americans to continue social distancing and using their masks, and to forgo large family gathering during the holiday season.

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