In an interview with Reuters published on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that the novel coronavirus may never be eradicated.
Fauci posited that the virus could be brought under control in 2021, but warned that it may never disappear, even if an effective vaccine is developed.
“Historically, if you get a vaccine that has a moderate to high degree of efficacy, and you combine with that prudent public health measures, we can put this behind us. I don’t think we’re going to eradicate this from the planet… because it’s such a highly transmissible virus that that seems unlikely.”
Fauci’s statements contradicted President Donald Trump’s claims that coronavirus will “go away” on its own. Trump has repeatedly argued that the virus will disappear with time. He repeated the dubious claim during a press conference on Wednesday.
During that briefing, the commander-in-chief also suggested that children are immune to COVID-19. According to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children of all ages can contract and spread coronavirus. The analysis pointed to a recent outbreak at a camp in the state of Georgia, where 260 children and staffers contracted the disease.
Trump has also claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, despite the fact that 1,000 Americans are dying each day. In an interview with Axios reported Jonathan Swan earlier this week, he appeared to downplay the severity of the situation, arguing that the death toll in the country is much lower than elsewhere in the world.
The president touted his administration’s accomplishments amid the devastating pandemic, placing the blame of governors and state governments and arguing against widespread testing.
Fauci also told Reuters that he is “cautiously optimistic” a COVID-19 vaccine would be available next year.
“We are likely going to have maybe tens of millions of doses in the early part of (next) year. But as we get into 2021, the manufacturers tell us that they will have hundreds of millions and likely a billion doses by the end of 2021,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert explained.
As reported by CNN, dozens of pharmaceutical companies around the world are working on developing vaccines. In the United States, Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax have all completed their Phase 1 trials.
The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed is financing eight companies in total, hoping to provide 300 million doses of medication that are both safe and effective by January 2021.