Even after people start receiving a vaccine, the public will still need to wear masks and social distance. Dr. Fauci explained why
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, many of us are looking hopefully toward what appears to be the light at the end of this awful tunnel: The news that leading scientists and doctors think there could be a vaccine ready for public use by early 2021 — or possibly even the end of this year. But just because a vaccine is available doesn’t mean things will go right back to normal, Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a new interview. In fact, many of the public health measures we’ve adopted lately, like wearing masks and social distancing, will still need to stay in use once people start receiving a vaccine, he said.
In a new interview with Bloomberg, Fauci was asked what day-to-day life will look like once one (or several) of the vaccines in clinical trials right now gets approved for widespread public use.
Dr. Fauci says life may not return to normal for some time even after we get a vaccine depending on its effectiveness. He stressed that we will need to follow public health measures as well to fully thwart the virus pic.twitter.com/YsTIAYF0zJ
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) August 18, 2020
“That’s a good question,” Fauci answered. “And it’s going to depend very much on what the percent or level of efficacy of the vaccine is.”
No vaccine is likely to be 100 percent effective in protection people against the coronavirus, especially with the race to get one safely approved for public use under these emergency circumstances.
“I would be very happy with 70, 75 percent, and I would be accepting of 50 to 60 percent, because that would be value added, superimposed upon and complementary to public health measures,” Fauci explained. “So if we don’t get a vaccine that is highly, highly, highly effective, even though it could still be a good vaccine, I think we would have to have some degree of attention to public health measures.”
Am I hopeful we will have a vaccine in the coming months? Yes. Do I think this will get us back to pre-Covid reality? No. Vaccines take a long time to get to people, often have stumbles in rollout, and don’t protect perfectly. Very important, but won’t end Covid.
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrTomFrieden) August 18, 2020
In other words, the vaccine will be another tool in our fight against the coronavirus, but at least at first, we’re going to have to use it alongside other tools, like face masks and social distancing.
“It’s going to take a while to build up an accumulative amount of immunity, either induced by the vaccine or by natural infection, to get to the point where you really have a veil of protection over the community,” Fauci continued. “That’s not going to happen in the first couple of months of availability of vaccine. So we will not be able — we should not abandon public health measures even when we do get a vaccine.”
According to the New York Times, at least eight vaccines worldwide are currently undergoing large-scale testing to see how effective they are. Hundreds of others are in earlier phases of clinical trials.