Fauci warns COVID-19 vaccine won't end social distancing, public health measures

"...It is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures,” he said on Thursday.
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Fauci testifies during a U.S. Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Sept. 23, 2020.ALEX EDELMAN / POOL/AFP via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Americans on Thursday that even if a COVID-19 vaccine is proven to be effective, that will not mean an immediate end to the public health measures in place to keep the virus at bay.

In a question and answer session with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Fauci — the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — explained.

“When the vaccine comes, we look at it as an important tool to supplement the public health measures that we do,” he said. “It will allow us to more quickly and with less stringency to get back to some degree of normal but it is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures.”

He added the vaccine will not be 100% effective nor will it be taken by 100% of Americans.

“If we’re lucky, we’ll get a vaccine that’s 70 to 75% effective,” he said.

Fauci said he believes they will know if any of the vaccines currently being tested are successful “probably in November or December.”

He added it is “conceivable” that we could know earlier in October, though unlikely.

“The total number of doses for everybody in the country to get vaccinated … there will be about 700 million doses in April,” he said.

“That means that theoretically, you could vaccinate everybody then but in reality, the logistics and practicality of getting people vaccinated likely will be until the second or third or beginning of the fourth quarter of the year when we sort of ‘get back to normal,’” Fauci estimated, using finger quotes at the end of his sentence.

The first people likely to be eligible for the newly-minted vaccines are healthcare workers, Fauci said, as well as vulnerable populations like the elderly and those who have underlying conditions.

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His comments on Thursday echoed his words earlier this month when he publicly disputed President Donald Trump's remarks that "we are rounding the final turn" on the coronavirus epidemic in the United States.

"If you're talking about getting back to a degree of normality which resembles where we were prior to COVID, it's going to be well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021."