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Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Get Back to Normal

"It's really up to us," the infectious-disease expert said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious-disease expert, predicted the country will return to normal life when "a certain percentage of the population" is vaccinated against COVID-19. In his best-case scenario, that means the fall of 2021. "It's really up to us," said Fauci in a CNBC Healthy Returns Livestream on Wednesday. "We want to put a lot of effort into reaching out to the community to convince them of the importance of getting vaccinated, not only for themselves, their family, but for the community in general. Read on to hear more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

"We can be approaching some level of normality," he said

"If we can get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated by, let's say, the end of the second, the beginning of the third quarter, by the time we get into mid-fall of 2021, we can be approaching some level of normality," he added. 

So what will that normality look like? "That would be things like being able to go to theaters, clearly feeling much more comfortable about school, having restaurants open to indoor dining," said Fauci. "I believe that if we get that level of protection, as we get into the fall, we can do that safely."

Fauci said he hoped 75% to  80% of Americans would get vaccinated against COVID-19 but that it "will probably take a few months to get the highest-priority people vaccinated," meaning healthcare workers and nursing-home residents. The vaccine would then be available to anyone who wanted it by approximately April 2021.

Fauci added that as soon as supplies of the vaccine became available at the National Institutes of Health, he would be willing to get the vaccine in public. "I will be right there, getting vaccinated publicly, to demonstrate to people my confidence in the safety and the efficacy of the vaccine," he said.  

Three former presidents—Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama—have also committed to getting the COVID-19 vaccine in public to assure Americans it's safe.

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Vaccines rolling out now, soon

The first vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, is being rolled out to healthcare workers after receiving emergency use authorization from the FDA on Sunday. The federal government reportedly bought 100 million doses of that vaccine, a two-dose regimen that would ultimately inoculate 50 million people.

Another vaccine by Moderna, which uses the same mRNA format as the Pfizer vaccine, is expected to be authorized for emergency use on Friday. That would add another 5.9 million doses to the national supply, enough for 2.9 million people. On Dec. 11, the Trump administration reportedly purchased 100 million more doses from Moderna to be delivered by June 2021.

The current population of the United States is approximately 328.2 million. To achieve Dr. Fauci's prediction, slightly more than 246 million people would need to be vaccinated, necessitating 492 million doses of a two-dose vaccine.

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How to survive this pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a 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, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.