Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an expert in infectious diseases for the last four decades, told CNBC’s Shepard Smith Monday evening that it was more critical than ever to do these five things: wear a mask, social distance, avoid crowded spaces, do things outdoors where possible, and wash your hands frequently.
“I think we’re facing a whole lot of trouble,” Fauci said. “We have a baseline of infections now that vary between 40,000 and 50,000 per day. That is a bad place to be when you are going into the cooler weather of the fall, and the colder weather of the winter. In addition, we would like to see the percent positivity be coming down.”
More than 215,910 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19.
Public-health experts have also warned of a “twindemic” of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza as the U.S. enters flu season, and urged Americans to get their flu shots. They worry about hospitals being overwhelmed with coronavirus and influenza cases, and about people being not being able to distinguish their symptoms.
The doctor said it is not a question of shutting down completely or opening up the economy completely. “We’re not talking about shutting anything down; we’re talking about using public-health measures as a vehicle, or a gateway, to keeping the country open, to keeping the economy going. It is not an obstacle.”
Smith asked Fauci about President Donald Trump’s call to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to open up New York. “This all-or-none phenomenon — either stay shut or you know, just throw caution to the wind — doesn’t work. And we have proven it doesn’t work,” Fauci said. “So that the prudent way and the careful way we know will, in fact, get us open, and we’ll do it in a safe way.”
When Smith said Fauci had been sidelined as a member of the White House task force on coronavirus, the doctor said he would not give up. “This is an outbreak of historic proportions, the likes of which we have not seen in 102 years,” he said, referencing the 1918 flu. “There is no chance that I’m going to give up on this and walk away from it no matter what has happened.”
Some 500 million people, or one-third of the world’s population, became infected with the 1918 Spanish flu. An estimated 50 million people died worldwide, with about 675,000 deaths occurring in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both pandemics caused an economic contraction, reducing both gross domestic product and employment.
Though the 1918 pandemic is forever associated with Spain, this strain of H1N1 was discovered earlier in Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S. But World War I censorship buried or underplayed those reports. Multi-generational households were more at risk from the 1918 flu and coronavirus in 2020.
Fauci implored young people to act responsibly. A young person might not get sick, but they could spread the disease to someone vulnerable. “That can be someone’s grandfather, that can be a woman who’s on chemotherapy for breast cancer, that could be an immune-deficient child. So we have to stop thinking that we exist in a vacuum, only for ourselves. We’re all in this together.”
Last month, Fauci told the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council in a remote interview that the first vaccines developed for COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, could be moderately rather than highly effective. “If the vaccine is moderately effective, enough that you definitely want to use it, then you’re going to have to get a lot more people to get vaccinated,” he said.
“With the combination of a good vaccine along with public-health measures, we may be able to put this coronavirus outbreak behind us the way we put the original SARS behind us and, hopefully, in the way we put MERS, or the Middle East Respiratory System, behind us,” the veteran epidemiologist said.
Fauci has said that he is hopeful that a coronavirus vaccine could be developed by early 2021, but has repeatedly said it is unlikely that a vaccine will deliver 100% immunity; he said the best realistic outcome, based on other vaccines, would be 70% to 75% effective. The measles vaccine, he said, is among the most effective by providing 97% immunity.
As of Wednesday, COVID-19 had infected 38.3 million people worldwide, a number that mostly does not account for asymptomatic cases, and killed more than 1.08 million people. The U.S. still has the world’s highest number of cases (7.9 million), followed by India (7.2 million), Brazil (5.1 million) and Russia (1.3 million), according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
AstraZeneca, in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE and partner Pfizer; Johnson & Johnson; Merck & Co.; Moderna; Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are among those currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.
In May, a majority of Americans (55%) said they would get vaccinated for COVID-19 if and when a vaccine becomes available, but that number has fallen to 32%, according to a Yahoo/YouGov poll conducted from Sept. 9 to Sept. 11. For the first time, more people said they will not get vaccinated (33%) or are unsure if they will get vaccinated (34%) than those who reported they would receive the vaccine.
UK tops 100,000 COVID cases in just seven days as death toll rises again
There have been 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in just seven days in the UK.
A further 19,724 cases were recorded on Wednesday, the government confirmed.
On Tuesday, there were 17,234, while on Monday another 12,872 people were reported as having caught coronavirus.
The total number of cases in the UK now stands at 654,644.
A further 137 people have also died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, which brings the UK death toll to 43,155.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,500 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.