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Dr. Fauci: The Pandemic Could Worsen During Winter

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The battle against coronavirus is far from over, and Dr. Anthony Fauci is making that clear.

On a virtual forum with the University of Berkeley, Dr. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious diseases expert, warned that if the U.S. doesn’t get its coronavirus crisis under control, the next couple of months will be rough for the country. 

“We’ve got to get [the number of infections] down or otherwise, we’re going to have a very tough winter in the next few months,” Fauci said.

As of right now, the U.S. is seeing at least 40.000 new cases a day – a number that worries Fauci because, even with the upcoming vaccine, which is said to be 99% effective, it might not be enough to steer the country into the swift recovery it has been hoping for.

“So let’s say you have a 75% effective vaccine, and 65% to 80% of the people want to get vaccinated: You still have a lot of people in society … that are vulnerable to be infected,” Fauci said. That means “we’re going to softly go into a graded degree of normality.”

For months, experts have been studying the COVID-19 and looking for other ways to flatten the curve around the world. Scientists have long hoped that herd immunity will take on the population, thus slowly edging the disease out for good. However, top experts say it is not that simple, because the virus is so deadly that waiting for said herd immunity would bring more harm than good.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual press briefing. “Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical. It’s not an option.”

To that pont, Fauci agrees that pretending that everything is back to normal is not the way; however, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope for experiencing life the way it was before the pandemic in the future. 

“I think ultimately, we will get back to normality as we knew it before this. But … It’s going to be a gradual process, in which the restrictions on things — restaurant numbers, theater attendance, spectators at sports [events] — all of that will come back gradually. But it will come back.

“Will people have to wear masks? Yes, likely. I would imagine that if we get a good vaccine now, that we could have some degree of normality in the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2021.”

During the conference, Fauci also spoke to the misinformation that sometimes brews online, saying that “(…) when disinformation gets in there, it has a way of self-propagating itself to the point where you don’t know what’s true.” 

Fauci continued to say that the bigger issue is that certain conspiracy theories could push some people to not take the virus as seriously – a deadly mistake that could cost them their lives. 

“How can it be a trivial outbreak if it’s already killed 210,000 people in the United States and a million people worldwide?” Fauci asked. “But there are people out there that think all of this is a big conspiracy.”

Alexandra Tirado Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist covering politics, immigration, entertainment and social justice. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to pursue a Writing degree at The University of Tampa, and after graduating, she moved to Los Angeles where she works in broadcast and as a freelance writer. She’s passionate about equality, freedom of speech, art and dogs.