Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that New Jersey is positioned to withstand a second coronavirus wave and the flu season if the state continues protocols that have lowered key health metrics.
In a Facebook Live event with Gov. Phil Murphy Sept. 24, Fauci stated “Looking at what has gone on in New Jersey… you were able to get the infection rate and all the other parameters down to a baseline that is now positioning you well to do a number of things.”
Fauci revealed that he uses New Jersey and a couple of other states as example of where states need to be as they face the challenge of Fall and Winter and be positioned to continue to open the economy in a careful way to avoid the “challenging difficulties” of going indoors while maintaining percent positivity rate to less than three.
Low Health Metrics
“That means your baseline now is very low for community spread,” said Fauci. “So if you all do what you have successfully done—wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands—you can gradually do the things you are doing with restaurants and schools.”
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, said the baseline for the country is currently about 35,000-45,000 news cases a day, an indication that some regions will have a real problem during the flu season during the Fall and Winter.
“What please me about New Jersey…is if you continue to carefully and prudently open up the economy, you can get through the Winter,” said Fauci.
In regards to vaccines, Fauci assured Murphy that any approved would be safe and given the approval by an independent board that would not be influenced by politicians.
“The big elephant in the room is (will) anybody make an end run to get it done more quickly than is safe,” said Fauci. “The FDA commissioner has pledged publicly to go by recommendation of the career scientists, not the political situation.”
Once that happens, the trial data becomes public which will undergo “a lot of public scrutiny” by leaders in the field, assured Fauchi.
Vaccine Not A Cure-All
He believed a vaccine would get the go ahead in November and December of this year. The vaccine would be distributed first to frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable populations at the end of the year, with 700 million doses available by April 2021. Fauci estimated 75-80% of the people is a realistic goal to be vaccinated by the end of 2021.
When Murphy said there is a bright line that American believe once a person is vaccinated, they can return to the way they lived their lives before the virus hit.
“You better get the red line and erase it,” laughed Fauci. “That is assuming that the vaccine is 100% effective and 100% of the people will take it. That is not going to happen.”
Fauci said the U.S. would be lucky to get a vaccine that is 75% effective and “we already know that there is a certain percentage of the population we still need to convince to get vaccinated.”
“The vaccine is an important tool to supplement the health measures that we do (currently),” he said.
The doctor encouraged everyone to get a flu shot this year and was optimistic, based on the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, that this year’s flu season could be less severe compared to years past if “we do it right…they found because of (COVID-19 help protocols in place) not only did they decrease COVID, they practically had a non-existence flu season.”