As the United States heads into what health officials are saying will be a bad week for coronavirus deaths, one expert is saying that the current battle might only be Round One.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that developing a vaccine is essential, because the coronavirus will be around long after this spring’s expected peak impact has come and gone.
“Unless we get this globally under control, there’s a very good chance that it will assume a seasonal nature in the sense that even if we, and I — and I hope it’s not just if but when we get it down to the point where it really is at a very low level, we need to be prepared that since it unlikely will be completely eradicated from the planet, that as we get into next season, we may see the beginning of a resurgence,” Fauci said (video below).
“And that’s the reason why we’re pushing so hard and getting our preparedness much better than it was, but importantly, pushing on a vaccine and doing clinical trials for therapeutic interventions so that, hopefully, if in fact we do see that resurgence, we will have interventions that we did not have in the beginning of the situation that we’re in right now,” Fauci said.
At the outset of the interview with host Margaret Brennan, Fauci did not mince words about what lies ahead.
“Well, this is going to be a bad week, Margaret,” Fauci said.
“Unfortunately, if you look at the projection of the curves, of the kinetics of the curves, we’re going to continue to see an escalation. Also, we should hope that within a week, maybe a little bit more, we’ll start to see a flattening out of the curve and coming down. The mitigation that we’re talking about that you just mentioned is absolutely key to the success of that,” he said.
“So on the one hand, things are going to get bad and we need to be prepared for that. It is going to be shocking to some. It certainly is — is really disturbing to see that. But that’s what’s going to happen before it turns around. So, we’ll just buckle down, continue to mitigate, continue to do the physical separation because we got to get through this week that’s coming up because it is going to be a bad week,” he said.
Fauci said that the nation does yet have the upper hand over the disease.
“We are struggling to get it under control, and that’s the issue that’s at hand right now,” he said about the 1:34 mark.
Fauci said that even when the long-term outlook begins to improve, the day-to-day picture will lag behind that by days or even weeks.
“The thing that’s important is that what you see is increases in new cases, which then start to flatten out. But the end result of that, you don’t see for days if not weeks down the pike, because as the — as the cases go down, then you get less hospitalizations, less intensive care, and less death,” he said.
“So even though you’re getting a — really improvement in that the number of new cases are starting to flatten, the deaths will lag by, you know, one or two weeks or more. So we need to be prepared that even though it’s clear that mitigation is working, we’re still going to see that tail off of deaths,” he said.
Fauci said that the flattening in the number of new cases is the harbinger of possible good news.
“So the first thing we want to look for is to see on a daily basis: Are the number of new cases starting to stabilize?” he said. “We’re going to hopefully be seeing that in New York very soon. And that’s the first sign of that plateau and coming down.”
About five minutes into the interview, Fauci said the nation is making progress in testing.
“[I]t’s very clear that we are much, much better off than we were in the sense that in the next week or two, we’ll have an extraordinary amount more capability of doing the kinds of testing that’s essential. Because testing is not only important to be able to identify individual cases, isolate them and contact tracing. But we really do need to get a feel for what the penetrance of this infection is in society,” he said.
Testing supplies the data needed to assess when it is safe to end restrictions, he said.
“That becomes critical when you plan to start to get back to normal, or at least take those first steps to getting back to normal. You have to know what’s out there. You have to know what you’re dealing with. So testing becomes even more important than what we’ve been speaking about in the past,” he said.
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