Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that Americans might not be able to safely return to school in the fall, citing not enough progress on developing a vaccine.
Sen. Lamar Alexander asked Dr. Fauci for advice to school principals and university presidents about reopening in August.
Fauci said that it was “a bit of a bridge too far” to expect that therapeutic treatments or vaccines would be widely available to treat students in August.
“We don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term,” Fauci said.
But Fauci said that some treatments like the passive transfer of convalescent serum might be available for protecting students, offering some hope to school administrators. That is derived from antibodies from blood donated by Americans who have recovered from the virus.
Sen. Bill Cassidy warned Fauci about the unintended consequences of keeping kids out of school, but Fauci acknowledged that he did not have an easy answer for his concerns.
“I don’t have an easy answer to that, I just don’t,” he said. “We just have to see on a step-by-step basis.”
Fauci said that the guidance for schools would vary state to state, as the virus would affect different areas.
“We have a very large country, and the dynamics of the outbreak are different in different regions of the country,” he said.
Sen. Rand Paul cited the extremely low mortality rate for children — approaching zero in hotspots like New York.
“I think the one size fits all to have a national strategy and nobody will go to school is ridiculous,” Paul said, calling for a district-by-district decision.
Fauci warned Paul about children suffering from inflammatory effects of coronavirus, similar to that of Kawasaki syndrome.
“I think we ought to be careful if we’re not cavalier in thinking children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” he said.