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Dr. Fauci Says When This Virus Should Be Over

Herd immunity is on the horizon, says Dr. Fauci—but so are COVID-19 mutations.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
Doctor Anthony Fauci

The COVID-19 infection rate is finally starting to drop after a particularly brutal holiday season and people are lining up across the country to receive the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. However, it isn't quite safe to let your guard down yet. While hope is on the horizon, herd immunity in the United States is still not yet a reality and will not be for some time. During an interview with CNN's New Day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, revealed exactly when a sense of normalcy will return. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

1

The Bad News: This New Highly Infectious Variant Is Spreading

Medical worker in protective suite taking a swab for corona virus test, potentially infected young woman
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Dr. Fauci says that the new, highly infectious variants that were first identified in the UK are in the United States are not yet dominant. "We do have variants in this country right now. The UK variant is in several states. It has not become dominant," he says. However, it could be "a possibility," he admits. "It might. That is why you have to watch it carefully in January and February and really take a good look." 

2

The Good News: Cases Are Plateauing

Female and male doctors wearing masks and uniforms are visiting to check the symptoms of middle-aged female patients lying in bed.
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Dr. Fauci does point out that things have taken a turn for the better after the holiday season. "The good news about all of this is that we are seeing a plateau in the number of cases," he says. "As we do that doesn't mean that all of a sudden everything is going to even off, because we're still going to have a lot of hospitalizations even though they tend to be plateauing and coming down and we will still have a lot of deaths. What we're hoping is that as we come to the end of January, we'll start to see that plateau and things will go down."

However, the new variant could negatively impact this positive trend. "We all realize, there's a possibility that with the variance here, we may have a dominance of those strains that tend to transmit more efficiently," he points out. 

3

When Will Herd Immunity Be Achieved?

Doctor Giving Older Woman Corona Virus Vaccine Injection In Hospital
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Dr. Fauci explains that we are still nowhere near herd immunity, urging the importance of continuing to "uniformly adhere to the public health recommendations that we have spoken about time and again, from the wearing of masks to the washing of hands, to avoiding congregate settings. That's the kind of thing that prevents surges, regardless of what the type of virus, the mutant virus, or what have you, is there that together with an increase in the rollout of vaccines is the thing that we should be concentrating on," he says. 

As for the timeline of when we will reach a point where COVID-19 will be relatively suppressed, he explains that it depends on the level of vaccination. He also points out that once it is achieved, it needs to be maintained. 

"When you talk about what the real level is going to be of herd immunity, you don't know that until you are in a situation that when people get below that level you start to see the uptick," he says. "That is the reason why we can pretty accurately say what it is for measles. We have been in situations where you have completely suppressed measles and then all of a sudden there are certain groups in the country that diminish their vaccination rate and you get outbreaks of measles."

4

Dr. Fauci Hopes We Can Return to Normal By Fall

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"We're not there yet with regard to accurate calculations regarding SARS-CoV-2, but you can make an estimate," he continues. "And that's the reason I have said all being modest that we don't know the exact number that is probably somewhere between 70 and 85% of people and I think when you get to that level, which I hope we will with our vaccination program, that in fact we will achieve herd immunity in a reasonable amount of time. Hopefully, that will be as we enter into the fall and end of the summer."

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

5

How to Stay Healthy During the Pandemic

girl wear medical face mask on sunny city street
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So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.