Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the recent coronavirus surge in the US was caused by reopening too quickly and the public not following guidelines.
Dr. Fauci told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the reason for the increase of coronavirus cases in the US was the swift reopening of economies.
“We’ve got to get that message out that we are all in this together,” Fauci said. “And if we are going to contain this, we’ve got to contain it together.”
Dr. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, also said that he is “quite concerned” about what is happening in several states.
He believes that several states may have gone “too quickly” and dismissed some checkpoints required for a safe reopening.
The public acted as if all restrictions had been lifted even in areas where state and local officials observed the federal guidelines.
“What we saw were a lot of people who maybe felt that because they think they are invulnerable, and we know many young people are not because they’re getting serious disease, that therefore they’re getting infected has nothing at all to do with anyone else, when in fact it does,” Dr. Fauci said.
Health officials stressed the importance of wearing masks as states relax their social distancing restrictions and as infections have increased in several areas.
Fauciand the other witnesses entered the hearing room wearing masks. They were spaced six feet apart. The number of reporters let into the room was limited and there was no room for a general audience.
A study published in the medical journal The Lancet showed that social distancing and wearing of masks found effective in reducing COVID-19 risk.
Findings showed that when it comes to social distancing, the chance of virus transmission at a distance of less than 1 meter was 12.8%. However, that becomes 2.6% at a distance of more than one meter. What is more effective is distances of two meters. The veracity of the evidence appeared “moderate.”
For face masks, the likelihood of transmission without a face mask or respirator was 17.4%. That became 3.1% when a mask was worn. Meanwhile, the certainty of the evidence was found “low.”
Dr. Fauci clarified that there is no guarantee that a safe and effective vaccine will be available soon, but health experts are “cautiously optimistic” that doses will be given to the public early next year.
He also told the Senate that the efficacy of the vaccines can be confirmed in the winter and early part of next year.
“There are a number of platforms that are being pursued so that we don’t have all our eggs in one basket,” he said.
However, Robert Lambkin-Williams, an independent virologist at Virology Consult Ltd, warned that a coronavirus vaccine cannot completely fight the pandemic and serve as the sole solution.
Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe,” he said the use of antibodies in fighting off the virus and protecting them from being reinfected with Covid-19 has not been proven yet.
“That’s important because we don’t know if the vaccines that encourage those antibodies to be produced are going to work,” he said.
He added that scientists still hope that antibodies would stop the coronavirus from penetrating individuals more than once.