December 3, 2020 -- The coronavirus pandemic will continue to disrupt daily life until most people in the U.S. take a COVID-19 vaccine, according to top infectious disease officials.
Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, emphasized on Monday that the “overwhelming majority” of people will need to receive the vaccine. He urged people to get immunized as soon as a vaccine is available.
“If you want to be part of the solution, get vaccinated and say, ‘I’m not going to be one of the people that is going to be a stepping stone for the virus to go to somebody else. I’m going to be a dead-end to the virus,’” Fauci said during a Facebook livestream with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the social media platform.
Most Americans should be able to take a vaccine between April and June, he said. About 75% to 85% of people will need to receive a vaccine for the U.S. to reach “herd immunity” and stop the spread of the virus.
“If we get to that point … by the end of second quarter of the year, you can have enough protection in this country that the pandemic as we know it will be well, well suppressed below the danger point,” Fauci added.
By the fall, people could return to work and school, and restaurants could reopen at full capacity. However, that timeline depends on how many people take a vaccine throughout 2021.
“You’re not going to see [herd immunity] unless the overwhelming majority of people get vaccinated,” he said. “If they want to wait a month or two, that’s OK … but I don’t want them to wait six to eight to nine months.”
Until then, people should continue to wear face masks, avoid crowds and follow social distancing guidelines. COVID-19 cases are surging in most states, and hospitalizations are reaching capacity in some states. The numbers will continue break records throughout the winter months as people spend time indoors, he said, especially during holiday celebrations. Families should calculate their risks and avoid gatherings with others outside of their household.
“The slope … is on an increment that is almost exponential, which is a really dangerous situation to be in,” he said. “The trajectory is we’re in a very precarious position.”