Fauci cautions ‘gradual return’ to normalcy by ‘second, third’ quarter 2021

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Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned that Americans should expect a gradual return to normal after the coronavirus pandemic as Pfizer potentially rolls out its highly-effective vaccine at the end of the year.

Speaking with Jake Tapper on Sunday morning’s “State of the Union,” Fauci speculated that it may not be until the second or third quarter of 2021 that Americans might expect to “start approaching a degree of normality.”

“It’s not going to be a light switch, Jake,” Fauci said. “We’re not going to turn it on and off, going from where we are to completely normal.”

“It’s going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by as we get well into 2021.”

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)”>

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, waits to testify at a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2020, in Washington, DC.<br>
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Fauci spoke optimistically of the Pfizer vaccine, which is reportedly up to 90% effective after a two-dose regimen. He emphasized, though, that the “uptake” of the vaccine will be just as important.

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“We have to get people to take the vaccine,” Fauci stated. “You have on the one hand an effective vaccine, on the other hand a high degree of uptake of the vaccine. We can start getting things back to relative normal as we start getting into the second or third quarter of next year.”

That slow rollout might not be what Americans are looking to hear, but the need for two doses means that as many doses as Pfizer produces, only half as many people will get the treatment.

In the same hour, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine noted that his state was potentially expecting 30,000 doses, which he planned to first distribute to health care workers at nursing homes.

Pfizer is not the only company close to developing an effective vaccine: AstraZeneca and Moderna are testing their own vaccines in wide-scale trials, but the effectiveness of those vaccines has yet to be determined.

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Fauci stressed that even with a vaccine, the best way to help reduce the effectiveness of the virus is to apply public health policy “uniformly,” although he did not think that the country would be looking at a national lockdown.

One of those measures may include a national face mask mandate, though he did not go into specifics. Fauci only urged that with the holiday season and colder weather ahead, it was not time to ease up on current measures.

“We can’t abandon fundamental public health measures,” Fauci said, noting that even as effective as the Pfizer vaccine might be, there is still potential for at least 5-10% of people taking the vaccine to get infected.

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“We need to do all those things together, we can’t just wish it happening,” he added. “We’ve got to get the vaccine, it’s got to be deployed, and we can’t abandon fundamental public health measures.”

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