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Dr. Fauci Just Said This Is When We Return to "Normality"

The answer depends on a number of factors.
Woman taking off mask outdoor

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge across the country and local and state governments are starting to reinstate lockdown-type restrictions, it is clear that this winter may look similar to the situation in March. So, the question on everyone's mind is: when are things going to go back to normal? During the New York Times DealBook Online Summit on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, explained that the answer depends on various factors.  Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Dr. Fauci Says "Normality" May Come by Fall, Depending on Who Takes the Vaccine

"You know, a lot of that is going to really depend on the uptake of the vaccine," Dr. Fauci revealed, explaining there are two elements to it.  "One is the level of efficacy and in this case, of the group of vaccines that the United States government is involved in helping to develop or implement the testing of through operation warp speed," he said, adding that two of them are offering "striking results" of 90% and 94.5% efficacy. "That's a huge advance," he pointed out.

It is also dependent on how many people take the vaccine, he added. "So we have a challenge ahead of some hesitancy about getting vaccinated that we need to outreach to the community to make sure that the overwhelming majority of the people in the country get vaccinated," he continued. "If we have an effective vaccine and 50% of the people don't take it, you still have a considerable public health challenge — because the way you get an outbreak under control to bring it down to such a minimal level, it's no longer a threat. "You have to have a blanket of protection over the community with the vaccine that is the overwhelming majority of the community."

"So you're asking me what things are to be like in the fall [of 2021], I can tell you that really depends on whether or not we get the majority of the people, the overwhelming majority of the people vaccinated," he stated. 

There is one more point to consider — that public health measures aren't going to be obsolete for a long time — even if all goes well with vaccination. "I think until you get to the point where domestically and globally, we no longer have a pandemic situation or an epidemic situation, but we have very good control that the level of infection in the community is so low it's no longer a threat," he continued. 

"Up until that time you're not going to have a vaccine completely replace public health measures. There will always be an element of need to adhere to public health measures. The degree of stringency of it is going to depend upon the level of infection in the community," he said. 

"If we hopefully—and I'm aspirational about that—get enough people to be vaccinated, that we no longer have a threat, as we get into the fall [of 2021], we could be quite close to some degree of normality—certainly from the standpoint of the economy, of getting businesses, open of getting sports events," he said. "That is feasible, but it is within our grasp to do it."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says Most People Did This Before Catching COVID

Fauci Says We Must Work Together to "Get Everything Under Control"

So, our work is not done. "The science has already told us that a vaccine that's highly effective is now not only feasible, it's a reality. So now we've got to make sure we utilize that tool together with the public health measures, get everything under control," he said. 

Until then, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place until there's a vaccine available: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, stay outdoors more than indoors, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.