Even if there were an effective vaccine in place, Americans would need to continue to wear masks and observe social distancing, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, said Thursday.
“It is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures,” he told New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) during a Facebook Live conversation.
Fauci also said that a “large proportion” of the U.S. population will not be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus this year, challenging the repeated assertions from President Trump that a vaccine will be ready by Election Day.
As The Washington Post has reported, the Food and Drug Administration’s tough new standard for an emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine will make it exceedingly difficult for any vaccine to be cleared before the November election.
On Wednesday, President Trump said the FDA plan “sounds like a political move,” warning that the White House might reject it — even as four of his administration’s top health officials have insisted that politics would not seep into the vaccine approval process.
But according to Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that timeline may not be as decisive as others are making it out to be. Because not everyone will receive the vaccine, and it will not be effective in all those who get it, there will still be plenty of room for the virus to spread.
“I think if we can get 75 to 80 percent of the population vaccinated, I think that would be a really good accomplishment,” he said.
Besides, he added, masks can protect from aerosol transmission, which many scientists say can occur with the novel coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is updating its guidance on this matter, the agency said, after pulling recommendations that had erroneously made it online last week.