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With coronavirus cases breaking records every day—the country recorded 126,742 new cases yesterday, the fourth day in a week with more than 100,000—leading experts worry more deaths are ahead. And the rest of us wonder, when will this end? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, answered that question in an interview Saturday with the American Medical Association (AMA). "How do you see the next one or two years unfolding?" asked host James Madara, MD, AMA CEO and EVP. "Where do we stand and how should we be looking at this?" Read on to see when things may return to normal, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
What Did Dr. Facui Reveal About the Vaccine Progress, Which is Key to Returning to Normality?
Dr. Fauci started by discussing the vaccine. "The issue with vaccines is actually good news in a time of considerable concern and stress about the outbreak," he said. "We have six candidates that the United States government is helping out with either in the development of, or in the facilitation of the testing of five of those six are already in phase three trial. And two of them, the Moderna and the Pfizer product started phase three trials on July, the 27th, they're fully enrolled. And as you and I are speaking right now, data being collected regarding efficacy and safety."
Fauci said: "We hope that as we get into November and maybe in the early December, we get an answer as to whether or not one or more of these candidates are safe and effective. I'm cautiously optimistic that we will have a safe and effective vaccine. And then we'll be able to start distributing doses reasonably soon thereafter integrated fashion to individuals with the highest priority such as healthcare workers and people on the front lines."
Related: Expert warns vaccine race can't trade safety for speed
When Did Dr. Fauci Say We'd Get Back to Normal?
So what would that mean for getting back to normal? "There are two factors that are going to determine the degree to which public health measures are going to be playing an important part in protecting our country and the people in our country," he said. "First of all, how effective would the vaccine be? And as importantly, how many individuals are going to opt to take the vaccine, because, you know, there is a considerable degree of reticence/skepticism about the vaccine that we need to overcome by transparency and messaging and reaching out to the community." "But if we get a reasonably effective—75% effective vaccine," he continued, "and a substantial proportion of the population takes the vaccine, I think we're going to be going in the right direction towards approaching some degree of normality as we head into 2021—in the second, third and fourth quarter of 2021. So that's good news."
Fauci was certain to add there's no reason to start popping champagne bottles yet. "I mean, obviously you can't declare victory until you get the results of whether or not the vaccine is safe and effective. But as I mentioned, I'm cautiously optimistic based on data that we have from the animal studies, as well as from the phase one trial showing a robust degree of neutralizing antibodies in those early phase one studies. So things are looking good in that regard," he said.
What to Do Until Then to Avoid Death
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.