Fauci says coronavirus vaccine news is signal ‘help is on the way’

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert said that news of an effective coronavirus vaccine shouldn’t be a signal to ease up on public health measures but rather a sign to “keep fighting” because the end is not here just yet. Speaking at a virtual Chatham House event, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in addition to the Pfizer vaccine, a second is “on the threshold” of being announced.

“I think the message that I’ve been giving now ever since it became clear a few days ago that we have a really quite effective vaccine getting ready to deploy is rather than ‘Hey, don’t worry, you’re OK,’ it’s ‘Don’t stop shooting, the cavalry is coming but don’t put your weapons down, you better keep fighting because they are not here yet,’” Fauci said. “Help is on the way but it’s not here yet.”

News of potential vaccines comes amid a surge of cases across the U.S. According to Fauci, more than 40 states are reporting increases in cases, posing a particularly unfavorable situation as the nation heads into the colder months. He cited a disparity among coronavirus mandates and guidelines in each state for why some areas continue to see spikes.

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“When we tried to so-called open the economy and open the country again, we did it in a disparate way,” he said. “We didn’t have a uniform adherence to the guidelines among the 50 states, that’s very clear history now. Some did it well, some did it not so well, so instead of coming down we actually went up to about 70,000 [cases] a day, then came down to about 40,000 for a month or two, which is an exceedingly high baseline.”

He also cited ongoing community spread as a reason for the high baseline. He stopped short of calling for a top-down approach for coronavirus restrictions but said he’d like to see “a much more uniform” approach in public health measures across the 50 states.

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“When you have an infectious disease, it doesn’t matter if you have a country with 50 states, what happens in one part of the country is going to influence what happens in another part of the country,” he said.

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He also said he’d like to see more developments in therapeutic medicine for coronavirus in addition to the successful development and deployment of a vaccine.