With record-setting days of COVID-19 cases—and hospitals overflowing in some states—Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show to sound an alarm: We have to implement public health measures or else things will get worse. Read on to hear his full warning, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Said We're Not "Rounding the Turn" or Corner
President Trump has said we're "rounding the turn" on the virus. This is not true, says Fauci. "No. No, it's not. I mean I think it's – if you just look at the numbers, I mean you can have opinions about what's going on but the data speak for themselves. Yesterday we had over 70,000 cases. Additional cases in a day. And we had…about a thousand deaths, and if you look at the map of the United States there are areas that when it gets above a certain percentage, that is an indication, percentage of tests that are positive, that is an indication that you're actually going in the wrong direction. So I think we really have to – as I say, we don't want to shut down again. There's no – there's no appetite whatsoever in this country for shutting down in any strict way, but there are certain public health measures that you can implement that would go a long way to turning around these increases that we're seeing."
Dr. Fauci Warned Again Against Crowds
"Well, I get concerned by that and I've been vocal about that for some time now. That what we need is – and I keep saying it – and that gets back to one of the first questions you asked me – if we uniformly wore masks, kept distance, avoid congregate settings, crowds, particularly without masks or particularly indoors, then if we did those things together with washing hands as frequently as you can we could go a long way to not only prevent the surges that we're seeing but to turn around the ones that are already ongoing. It is not that difficult, and you do not have to shut down the country to be successful."
Dr. Fauci Said There Will Indeed be a Vaccine by the End of the Year—But You Might Not Be Able to Take it Then
"I think we will know, yes, I believe he said that correctly, we will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, the beginning of December. The question is, once you have a safe and effective vaccine or more than one, how can you get it to the people who need it as quickly as possible? So the amount of doses that will be available in December will not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody, you'll have to wait several months into 2021, but what will happen is that there's been a prioritisation set so that individuals such as health care workers will very likely get first shot at it, as will then likely people who are in the category of being at an increased risk for complications. That could start by the end of this year, the beginning January, February, March of next year. But when you talk about vaccinating a substantial proportion of the population so that you can have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak, that very likely will not be until the second or third quarter of the year."
Dr. Fauci Said an All-or-Nothing Approach to the Economy is a False Choice
"I believe that if we did things in a prudent way, following the science, opening the country – I think again we get back to what I'm saying is that there is not an all-or-none phenomenon, you could follow the science and public health measures without shutting down the economy, without shutting down the country. There is this feeling that it's an all-or-none phenomenon: either you shut down or you just do whatever you want to do. No, there's a golden mean where you can keep the country going, you can keep the economy going, but you could still practice prudent public health measures such as the ones that I just mentioned."
Dr. Fauci Said a Vaccine Would Still Require Public Health Measures
"Well, I think when we get a vaccine and we start getting people vaccinated that we will have a gradual, over a period of several months into 2020, we will begin to approach some form of normality, depending upon how many people, what proportion of the people, take the vaccine. And that should be combined with some degree of public health measures. I don't think that a vaccine alone right off will get us back to normality, but what I do foresee is that with a successful vaccine and the continuation of some form of public health measures, as we go and progress through the months of 2021, getting towards the third and fourth quarter, we will see a considerable approach toward some form of normality."
Dr. Fauci Said the U.S. Response Has Been Inconsistent
"You know I don't have an exact explanation for it, but one of the situations that we've had in the United States was a bit of an inconsistency in the response to the outbreak in the sense of getting all 50 of our states of our very large country to actually abide by the guidelines that we set forth. And then when we tried to reopen our country as it were, in the sense of economically, there was an inconsistency in different states of what they did in adhering to the guidelines. So it's a question of a uniform adherence to the public health measures which we did not do that well here in the United States. You know unfortunately, I'm sorry to see what I'm viewing from a distance, what I'm seeing in the UK that, you know after getting hit pretty badly the way we did you went down to a pretty low level, but now you're starting to escalate in the same manner that we are here."
Dr. Fauci Hopes Science Prevails—in an Increasingly Anti-Science America
"Oh, I think it's very important because you know we – we have a situation which is understandable. People look at what their leaders say and do and you can positively or negatively influence behavior. One of the things I'm concerned about in the United States is that part of the anti-science translates maybe into antivaccine. Particularly amongst some of the more vulnerable people like minorities in our population. It would really be a shame if we have a safe and effective vaccine but a substantial proportion of the people do not want to take the vaccine because they don't trust authority. That would really be unfortunate if that's the case."
How to Stay Healthy and Avoid COVID-19
As for yourself, 35 states in America are seeing dramatic rises in cases and, in many, hospitalizations. No matter where you live, wear your face mask, avoid crowded, hang outdoors more than indoor, practice good hand hygiene, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.