In a wide-ranging interview published Sunday, America’s top infectious disease expert tempered expectations for a return to normalcy, offered advice to people who are protesting in the wake of George Floyd’s death, and suggested that US travel bans may remain in effect for months.
Coronavirus could “go on for a couple of cycles, coming back and forth,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told British newspaper The Telegraph.
“I would hope to get to some degree of real normality within a year or so,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s this winter or fall, we’ll be seeing it for a bit more.”
Amid protests for racial justice, Fauci said the “bottom line is there is a risk (in protesting), and of course it’s concerning.” He said that wearing masks helps, but emphasized that crowds are risky.
“I would say in a perfect world people shouldn’t congregate in a crowd and demonstrate. But I know, even though you say that, they are going to go do it,” Fauci said.
“So, if you’re going to do it, don’t take the mask off when you’re chanting, and screaming, and yelling, and doing whatever at a demonstration.”
Fauci also poured cold water on the idea that limits on travel from the UK and other countries would be lifted in time for the summer holidays.
“It’s going to be really wait and see. I don’t think there’s going to be an immediate pull back for those kinds of restrictions,” he said. “My feeling, looking at what’s going on with the infection rate, I think it’s more likely measured in months rather than weeks.”
School openings should be based on local conditions, Fauci said in the interview. He also expressed optimism that a vaccine will ultimately be successful. “We have potential vaccines making significant progress. We have maybe four or five,” he said.
“You can never guarantee success with a vaccine, that’s foolish to do so, there’s so many possibilities of things going wrong. (But) everything we have seen from early results, it’s conceivable we get two or three vaccines that are successful.”