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Dr. Fauci moves the goalposts again, says US could return to 'normal' by spring 2022 — if vaccination rates increase
Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Fauci moves the goalposts again, says US could return to 'normal' by spring 2022 — if vaccination rates increase

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the United States could return to a semblance of normalcy by spring 2022 — as long as vaccination rates climb.

What's a brief history here?

Fauci initially announced in the spring 2020 that the country needed to embark on a strict, two-week lockdown in order to flatten the curve of the disease.

Over the course of the proceeding 17 months, Fauci moved the goalpost for the U.S.'s rebound on several occasions, and has admitted on at least one occasion that he previously misled people about when he believes herd immunity could occur because he believed it was easier to digest.

As recently as December, Fauci said, "When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70% to 75% ... Then, when newer surveys said 60% or more would take it, I thought, 'I can nudge this up a bit,' so I went to 80, 85. We need to have some humility here .... We really don't know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70% to 90%. But, I'm not going to say 90%."

Fauci's latest remarks came on the heels of a Monday interview in which he said that the United States could see a semblance of normalcy by fall or winter 2022. He issued an apology after that interview, and said that he misspoke.

What are the details?

Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that if the "overwhelming majority" of Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, the U.S. may see a "degree of normality" by spring 2022.

"If we can get through this winter and get the majority, the overwhelming majority of people who have not been vaccinated vaccinated, I hope we can start to get some good control in the spring of 2022," Fauci told Cooper.

If that happens, Fauci said, Americans may well end up resuming their activities at public spaces such as restaurants, theaters, and more.

"As we get into the spring, we could start getting back to a degree of normality, namely resuming the things that we were hoping we could do, restaurants, theaters, that kind of thing," he explained.

Fauci added that the idea of returning to any normalcy at this point is simply based on hope and that there's "no guarantee."

He added that if Americans do fall short of what he believes is an ideal vaccination rate, yet another crippling variant could emerge and handicap the country's recovery once more.

"This is a very wily virus," he told Cooper. "If we keep lingering without getting those people vaccinated that should be vaccinated, this thing could linger on, leading to the development of another variant which could complicate things."

Fauci did not state what percentage of the U.S. population he believes needs to be vaccinated before the country achieves what is referred to as herd immunity.

What else?

At the time of this reporting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 71% of Americans ages 12 years and older are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19. The CDC estimates that about 60% of Americans ages 12 years and older are fully vaccinated.

Fauci's remarks came the same day the Food and Drug Administration granted full authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement on the authorization, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said, "Based on the longer-term follow-up date that we submitted, today's approval for those aged 16 and over affirms the efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine at a time when it is urgently needed. I am hopeful this approval will help increase confidence in our vaccine, as vaccination remains the best tool we have to help protect lives and achieve herd immunity."


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