Americans should know that a positive end to the COVID-19 pandemic is near, but now is not the time to abandon public health measures to blunt the current surge of coronavirus, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious-disease specialist, on Wednesday. "The end is in sight," said Fauci on the Wall Street Journal's podcast. "We can actually end this with a combination of good public health measures and adhering to them and acceptance of the vaccine." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
"We can't throw up our hands"
As COVID-19 vaccines have begun to roll out to healthcare workers, Fauci and other public health officials have urged Americans to stay vigilant about protective measures like mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing to stem spread of the virus.
"Vaccines are going to really get us out of this, but we can't throw up our hands and say, 'Okay, there's vaccine here. We're going to start to vaccinate people. So we can forget about public health measures'," said Fauci. "It's almost the opposite to me, that we want to double down on public health measures. As we put an end to this, we don't want to be the last ones to get sick and die by this."
Fauci added that he is aware that many Americans are tired of the social isolation the pandemic has caused and the daily drumbeat of grim news. "I am totally aware and sensitive to this concept and the reality of COVID fatigue," he said. "It's real. I see it all around me. But now's not the time to give in to the COVID fatigue."
"I will guarantee you this will end," Fauci added. "And ultimately it will end positively and we will get back to some degree of normality."
Fauci said this normality should return by the late summer or early fall of 2021, if 75% to 80% of the American population is vaccinated. He predicted that would provide enough widespread protection against coronavirus to allow restaurants, sports arenas and movie theaters to open safely.
Back in April, Fauci famously declared that COVID-19 might lead to the demise of the handshake. He's revised that prediction. "When this is over, people will be shaking hands again," he said Wednesday, adding that one positive permanent development may be that people become more comfortable wearing face masks in public during times of seasonal respiratory illness, potentially reducing the spread of those diseases.
How to survive this pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a 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.