Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told an audience in Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday that the United States may begin to get back to normal in 2022 due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
“I think it will be easily by the end of 2021 and perhaps into the next year before we start having some semblance of normality,” Fauci stated during a webinar hosted by the University of Melbourne.
“If normal means you can get people in a theatre without worrying about what we call congregate-setting super infections, if we can get restaurants to open almost at full capacity,” he added.
Fauci then warned that U.S. officials need to walk a “fine line” when it comes to balancing economic and public health policy, particularly with respect to reopening parts of the county during the pandemic.
“I firmly believe that you can continue to open to business [and] open up the country from an economic standpoint,” Fauci said. “But if you do that prudently with public health measures, that prevents surges of infection. We’ve seen it done before in countries and in sections of our own country.”
On the subject of vaccines, Fauci appeared to take a shot at the Trump administration, saying “there is a reluctance to take vaccines” due to, in part, “mixed signals that are coming out from the government, that is not being very helpful.”
During another point of the webinar, Fauci praised both Australia and New Zealand’s handling of the virus.
He stated: “Australia is one of the countries that has done quite well. New Zealand has done well. I would like to say the same for the U.S., but the numbers speak for themselves. We’ve had 8.7 million infections, 225,000 deaths, and we are getting worse and worse.”
Fauci’s comments come after he said the U.S. may want to mandate wearing masks to combat the spread of the virus.
“One of the issues, I get the argument, they say if you mandate a mask, then you’re going to have to enforce it and that will create more of a problem. Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it,” he told CNN on Friday.
Last Monday, President Trump pushed back against Fauci for constantly attacking his handling of the pandemic, branding him a “disaster.”
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots, these people, these people that have gotten it wrong,” President Trump said.
“If we listen to him, we’d have 700,000 to 800,000 deaths right now,” he added. “With that, I get along with him. If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it. I couldn’t care less.”