It is doubtful that the COVID-19 pandemic will disappear this summer like many other respiratory viruses that go away as the weather gets warmer, Dr. Anthony Fauci told more than 45,000 users during an Instagram Live session on Thursday.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force joined Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry on Instagram to answer questions on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Compared to the seasonal flu, Fauci said, coronavirus is more transmittable and 10 times more serious. The overall mortality rate of coronavirus is 1 percent compared to a 0.1 percent mortality rate of influenza, according to Fauci.
Curry asked Fauci how experts are determining when it will be acceptable to resume holding mass public gatherings like the NBA playoffs that were canceled earlier this month after a player tested positive for the coronavirus.
“You need to see the trajectory of the curve start to come down…,” Fauci responded. “We can start thinking about getting back to some degree of normality when the country as whole has turned that corner and starts coming down.”
He added that China, for example, has started to get back to normal life but, “they have to be careful to not reintroduce the virus.”
Unlike in China, Europe and South Korea, the U.S. is starting to see younger and healthier individuals getting severely ill, noted Fauci.
“It’s a very small minority but it doesn’t mean that people like yourself should say that I’m completely exempt from any risk of getting seriously ill,” Fauci told Curry.
Instead, he said that everyone should take social distancing seriously for two reasons: “To protect yourself because you might not completely be exempted from serious illnesses and, second, you can be the carrier of infection and pass it on to other people.”
Curry mentioned that two days before the NBA playoffs were canceled, he was tested for the virus after exhibiting symptoms, but tested negative.
Fauci said vaccine development has begun, but testing a vaccine “has multiple phases.”
In the first phase, experts have to make sure the vaccine is safe, he said. In phase two and three, the vaccine must be tested on hundreds or thousands of people to determine if it works. In total, this can take up to one and a half years, said Fauci.
However, Fauci said he is hopeful that if testing is done faster, experts can know by next winter whether “they have something that works.”
Fauci said if coronavirus is like other respiratory viruses, people will not have to worry about getting infected twice.