“The models tell us if we don’t do what we need to in the fall and winter, we could have 300,000 to 400,000 COVID-19 deaths,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during a recent virtual event hosted by American University.
Fauci added that a viable coronavirus vaccine likely won’t be available to most Americans until the summer or fall, which seemingly supports what Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated to the Senate Appropriations Committee last month.
On Monday, Fauci, who has previously said that it is highly unlikely that the coronavirus will ever be eradicated, acknowledged that normal life may not resume until the end of next year, largely due to logistical challenges of distributing millions of doses of the vaccine.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert also asserted that he always places the health of Americans as a top priority and has no intention of stymieing economic growth.
“Maybe 50 percent of you hate me because you think I’m trying to destroy the country, but listen to me for six weeks or so, and do what I say, and you’ll see the numbers go down,” Fauci said.
In August, a study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine claimed that nearly 300,000 Americans could be dead from the coronavirus by December 1.
That data, however, predicted that consistent mask-wearing by 95 percent of the U.S. population has the potential to save roughly 70,000 lives.
“We’re seeing a rollercoaster in the United States,” IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a statement.
“It appears that people are wearing masks and socially distancing more frequently as infections increase, then after a while as infections drop, people let their guard down and stop taking these measures to protect themselves and others—which, of course, leads to more infections. And the potentially deadly cycle starts over again.”
Now more than nine months into the pandemic, there are roughly 36.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, including at least 1.06 million related deaths.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.