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Ahead of Labor Day, Fauci warns to avoid crowds, prevent a 'twindemic'

After previous holidays in the pandemic, such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, there was a surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Fauci pointed out.
/ Source: TODAY

Ahead of Labor Day weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci wants the public to know that precautions to prevent COVID-19 are just as important as ever.

In an interview with TODAY's Sheinelle Jones on Wednesday, the nation's leading infectious disease expert stressed that after previous holidays during the pandemic, especially Fourth of July and Memorial Day, "we saw ... a surge in cases."

"Wear a mask, keep social distancing, avoid crowds," Fauci emphasized about behavior this weekend. "You can avoid those kind of surges. You don't want to be someone who's propagating the outbreak. You want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem."

The doctor also spoke about the possibility of a twindemic, should cases of the flu and COVID-19 both rise in the fall and winter. He told Sheinelle that he is concerned but posed a solution to reduce the impact of a twindemic.

"What I'd really like to see is kind of a full-court press to get us way down as a baseline so when you get these cases in the fall, they won't surge up," he explained. "They'll be controllable."

Also this winter, we could expect to have a vaccine, Fauci said.

"I believe that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year, that we will feel comfortable that we do have a safe and effective vaccine," he said.

He then shared his own experience with vaccines fast-tracked with the Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization (EUA), as was done previously with convalescent plasma.

"I would not be comfortable with a vaccine unless it was shown in a clinical trial clearly to be safe and effective," he said. "I've been through a number of vaccine trials in which EUAs have ultimately been done, but they've been done when there was enough data that you would really feel comfortable that it was safe and effective for the American public."

NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres also weighed in on the timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine on TODAY Wednesday.

To start, he explained that three possible vaccines are in the third and final clinical development phase, meaning they're being given to thousands of people and then tested for safety and efficacy, a process that will take "a few months."

He added that while an EUA might go through earlier for the vaccine in certain populations, he thinks late winter, early spring is a realistic timeline for the general public. Then, there could be a phased approach for administering it, with health care workers and high-risk people first, then teachers and others working in places where people gather, next kids and young people and everyone else last.

"Obviously we can't give 330 million vaccinations all at once," he said. "Hopefully we can get to that herd immunity, which means ... hopefully we can get the pandemic more under control."