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Here’s when Fauci thinks the coronavirus pandemic will end and life will go back to normal

Published Aug 16th, 2020 10:33AM EDT
Coronavirus Return to Normal
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  • People are worried that the coronavirus pandemic will prevent life from going back to normal for several months or even several years.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed these concerns in a recent interview, providing an actual estimate for when we might beat the coronavirus and return to normal.
  • He said the timeframe is contingent upon implementing certain public health measures and a vaccine program that has to be effective enough to bring the transmission rate down.

The novel coronavirus pandemic already feels like it’s been here for years. But it has only been less than eight months that the world has been living with this new pathogen, and we’re nowhere near the final innings of this battle. Some people have hastily returned to normal life as soon as lockdowns were lifted, ditching protective measures that could keep the COVID-19 infection rate down. This rapid return to normal life fueled new outbreaks that turned out to be even bigger than before, and several US states are proof of how not to reopen the economy during a scary pandemic.

Things can’t and won’t get back to how they were before until the transmission rate is reduced significantly. That can happen once people start respecting the rules again, and once the first vaccines start rolling out more widely. But it’ll take more than a year for the US to get back to normal. The estimate comes from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading health expert and one of the world’s most trusted voices on all things COVID-19-related.

Bill Gates said in a couple of recent interviews that he thinks the US will be done with the COVID-19 outbreaks by the end of 2021, as soon as vaccines start cutting down the rates of infection. “You have to admit there’s been trillions of dollars of economic damage done and a lot of debts, but the innovation pipeline on scaling up diagnostics, on new therapeutics, on vaccines is actually quite impressive,” Gates said. “And that makes me feel like, for the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022.”

Gates isn’t the foremost expert in the field, but he’s involved heavily with COVID-19 vaccine efforts and other medical programs via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Fauci’s estimate isn’t far off from Gates. The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) appeared on PBS NewsHour where he was asked whether the COVID-19 pandemic will end sooner than 2024. That estimate came from a recent article about the health crisis from medical historian Howard Markel.

Fauci acknowledged that if it’s not handled properly, the coronavirus pandemic could “go on for a few years.”

“However, we have certain things within our grasp and within our power that I believe are going to make that projection inaccurate,” Fauci said. “And that is, we can control this from a public health standpoint. If you synergize and superimpose good, solid, careful, prudent public health measures with a vaccine that is effective — it doesn’t have to be 100 percent effective. If you get a vaccine into 2021, throughout the year, I believe by the end of the year 2021, we will be as good as back to normal as we possibly can.”

Fauci made it clear that returning to normal does not mean the virus will be eradicated.

“The only virus that we have ever eradicated in the history of the planet has been smallpox for humans,” he said. “But we can get it under good enough control that it is so low that it doesn’t interfere with the kind of normal life that we want to get the economy back, to get employment back.”

Until vaccines are ready, Fauci says the US has a chance of bringing the surges down “if we pull together in a unified, consistent way.”

“Uniform and universal wearing of masks. Physical, social distancing. Avoiding crowds. Outdoor things always better than indoor things. And wash hands as often as you possibly can,” he said, adding that people should stay away from bars.

The full interview is available at this link, while Markel’s piece can be seen over at The New Yorker.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.