Face masks have quickly become a new fact of life for people around the world. As one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus, health experts and officials have urged everyone to do their part and always wear one in public, with many cities and states instituting mask mandates that require them. But when will we be able to stop wearing masks and see our friends' smiling faces again? According to Anthony Fauci, MD, the answer to when we may be able to finally stop wearing masks might be a bit further off than some would like to hear.
During an interview with Business Insider, Fauci explained that we can likely expect at least another full year of donning PPE, saying, "A combination of an effective vaccine and adherence to certain public-health principles will get us to the point where we want to be, by the end of 2021."
He noted that the emphasis on developing and distributing an effective vaccine was being misunderstood as a kind of silver bullet solution. "I never said just the vaccine," he explained. "You never should abandon the public health measures."
This is not the first time the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director has made this estimation. When asked during a recent Instagram Live interview with actor Jennifer Garner when it would be "safe" to go to theaters again, Fauci said that it probably wouldn't be until the end of next year when people could go out in public without face coverings. "Words like 'safe' are charged," he told Garner. "I'm talking about the general trend of when we'll start to feel comfortable going back to normal if we get a safe and effective vaccine."
Other medical experts have echoed Fauci's predication about a longer mask timeline. "You still need to wear that mask," Paul Offit, MD, director of the Vaccine Education Center and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told Business Insider. "What worries me is that people are going to see this vaccine as a magic dust that's going to go over our country and make the virus stop. It doesn't work that way." And for more on when you can leave your face uncovered, check out Dr. Fauci Says You Don't Need to Wear a Mask in This One Scenario.