Dr. Anthony Fauci said that it will still be very necessary to wear face masks and to practice social distancing even after a coronavirus vaccine becomes available and a person has been vaccinated.
During a Sunday appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Fauci told CNN anchor Jake Tapper, "I would recommend to people to not to abandon all public health measures just because you've been vaccinated. because even though, for the general population, it might be 90 to 95 percent effective, you don't necessarily know, for you, how effective it is."
"Obviously, with a 90-plus percent effective vaccine, you could feel much more confident," Fauci said.
"So, when I get vaccinated, which I hope to when it becomes my turn to get vaccinated, I'm not going to abandon completely public health measures," he said. "I could feel more relaxed, in essentially not having the stringency of it that we have right now, but I think abandoning it completely would not be a good idea."
Tapper asked the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases about the upcoming holidays.
"I know a lot of Americans are looking ahead, hoping to make plans for other holidays, such as Christmas. But when do you think Americans will next be able to safely gather together for family events like this?" Tapper asked Dr. Fauci.
The member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force replied, "You know, it depends on a number of factors, Jake. For example, we have vaccines now. The first one that came out was highly effective. I anticipate that the second one likely will be comparable. You never can tell until you see the data, but would be comparable."
"But we have to get people to take the vaccine," he said. "So, if we get the overwhelming majority of people taking the vaccine, and you have, on the one hand, an effective vaccine, on the other hand, a high degree of uptake of the vaccine, we could start getting things back to relative normal as we get into the second and third quarter of the year, where people can start thinking about doing things that were too dangerous just months ago."
Tapper then asked, "So, not until the second or third quarter of 2021, though? Christmas is probably not going to be possible?"
Fauci responded, "Yes, I'm – well, I think that, if we get most of the country vaccinated in the second, third quarter of the year, and the vaccine continues to prove its efficacy, and people adhere to those fundamental measures, I think we can start approaching the degree – it's not going to be a light switch, Jake."
In October, Fauci warned about families meeting during the holidays.
"That is unfortunately a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting," Fauci said. "It is unfortunate, because that's such a sacred part of American tradition — the family gathering around Thanksgiving. But that is a risk."
On Friday, Fauci gave an interview to "CBS This Morning," where he talked about gathering for Thanksgiving, and he said face masks need to be worn inside.
"Nothing is going to be perfect in this," he explained. "Obviously, it's kind of difficult to be eating and drinking at a dinner with a mask on…to the extent that you can, keep that mask on."
"People who say wear a mask indoors, they're really talking about when you get into a setting where you're really unsure what the status of people are," Fauci added.
On Thursday, Fauci claimed that the COVID-19 outbreak would not be a pandemic for "a lot longer."
"Certainly it's not going to be a pandemic for a lot longer because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around," he said.