- Dr. Anthony Fauci touched on several coronavirus topics during a new interview, revealing that recent models indicate the US death toll could skyrocket to 400,000 if safety measures aren’t observed.
- Nearly 216,000 Americans have already died of COVID-19 complications so far, and the number of cases continues to climb.
- Fauci also addressed vaccine safety, saying he’ll get the vaccine himself as soon as the FDA clears one.
- The health expert also warned that vaccines won’t start making a difference until late summer of next year or even early next fall.
More than 7.7 million Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday morning, and nearly 216,000 of them died of COVID-19 complications. That figure will continue to climb as the transmission rate remains high, and Dr. Anthony Fauci has a scary new estimate. “The models tell us if we don’t do what we need to in the fall and winter, we could have 300,000-400,000 COVID-19 deaths,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) said during a new interview. Fauci’s warnings seem familiar because the health expert has voiced these concerns before, right alongside a stern reminder that safety measures that can lower the rate of COVID-19 transmission and save lives.
Fauci explained that the risk of dying of COVID-19 complications is at 20% if a patient ends up on a ventilator in the US. “Among those who are symptomatic, 80% are mild/moderate,” he said, and “15-20% get severe or critical” forms of the disease.
— American University (@AmericanU) October 6, 2020
“As a nation, we need to double down on fundamental public health measures that work, including wearing masks… distancing… washing hands,” he said in the interview with American University. Fauci can often be heard citing these safety measures that many people continue to ignore. Fauci usually advises people to avoid crowded, indoor settings and to stay away from bars and restaurants, in addition to observing face mask, social distancing, and hygiene guidelines.
“We’ve learned a lot from the very first days,” Fauci said of COVID-19 transmission, adding that the pathogen is one of the most efficient viruses when it comes to spreading. “We also know 40-50% of infections are asymptomatic,” Fauci warned, which means people likely don’t know when they’re infected and can spread the virus.
Fauci addressed droplets and aerosol transmission as well. “Most people think droplets are from when you ‘achoo’ or cough. Respiratory droplets come out of your mouth when you speak, and even more when you sing,” he said. Fauci also addressed aerosol transmission risks, which the CDC finally acknowledged in a new update to COVID-19 guidelines. Aerosol transmission is a “concern,” he said, “and aerosol can hang around for multiple seconds and minutes.”
Dr. Fauci said that people are infectious for several days before the onset of symptoms, and they continue spreading the virus a few days after that. “But, it’s harder to find that window with asymptomatic cases.”
The top NIAID official also addressed COVID-19 complications that some refer to as Long COVID or “long-haulers.” Some of the patients who recover from coronavirus infections continue exhibiting symptoms after the virus clears, including fatigue, difficulty breathing, and trouble concentrating. “When you get scores of people complaining to their physicians, you have to take it seriously,” Fauci said, adding that “we are conducting a study on post-COVID people.”
The expert said the US isn’t facing a second wave of COVID-19 in the winter and fall. Instead, “we’re facing a resurgence of the wave we began with.” The US was never able to flatten the curve as a country, with the number of cases plateauing in late May at over 20,000 new cases a day. The infection rate surged to new record numbers of more than triple that figure during the summer months and started dropping by early September. But the transmission rate has increased since then again, signaling this new resurgence that Fauci has mentioned.
He acknowledged that some people “hate” him, but he urged Americans to heed to his advice. “Maybe 50% of you hate me because you think I’m trying to destroy the country, but listen to me for six weeks or so, and do what I say, and you’ll see the numbers go down,” Fauci said.
As with most interviews with Dr. Fauci in, he also tackled COVID-19 vaccine candidates and their safety. “When the FDA ultimately approves it, I would feel comfortable taking the vaccine myself,” Fauci said. However, he warned that vaccines won’t make a difference until well into 2021. “I’d like to say spring, but… I think it’s much more likely in the late summer early fall… that the level of virus in the community will be so low that in-person classes will be the rule, not the exception,” he said.
The full interview was live-tweeted as it happened and is available in this thread.