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Fauci expects U.S. to contain pandemic by next fall

Fauci expects U.S. to contain pandemic by next fall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading U.S. infectious disease expert, said on Wednesday he expects the United States to achieve enough herd immunity through vaccinations to return to “some degree of normalcy” by the fall of 2021 despite the pandemic. There were setbacks early on. Vaccine rollout.

Fauci made the remarks during an online discussion of the pandemic with California Governor Gavin Newsom. Newsom began by announcing that a more contagious variant of the coronavirus originally found in the U.K. had been found in his state, a day after the U.S. recorded its first known case. Colorado.

Earlier in the day, the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus had been confirmed in a patient in Southern California, Newsom said. He did not provide further details. But the California Department of Public Health later said in a statement that the patient was a San Diego County patient with no known travel history, suggesting the variant is spreading in the community.

Fauci said he was “not surprised,” adding that more cases of the variant are likely to emerge across the country and that the mutating nature of such viruses is normal.

“It does appear that this particular mutation makes it easier for the virus to spread from one person to another,” he said. However, individuals infected with earlier forms of SARS-CoV-2 “do not appear to be reinfected,” meaning that anyone who has acquired Immunity “all protect against this particular strain,” Fauci added.

He also stressed that the disease caused by the so-called British variant is not believed to be more severe, and that the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine will prove to be as effective against it as against earlier known forms of the virus.

The same is true of a second new variant, also more contagious, first reported in South Africa, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Still, the emergence of a more contagious variant could make the rapid rollout of immunizations all the more important.

President-elect Joe Biden warned on Tuesday that it could be years before most Americans are vaccinated, given that initial vaccine distribution rates have fallen behind the Trump administration’s promises. He called on Congress to approve more funding for the work.

FILE PHOTO: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Alec before receiving the first dose of the new Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Azar, United States, 22 December 2020. Patrick Semansky/Pool via REUTERS

“We’ll catch up”

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Wednesday he is confident that early problems in vaccine distribution will be overcome.

“As we go into January, we feel like we’re going to gain some momentum to catch up,” he told Newsom, who expects by April that vaccinations will be widely available to the public as needed.

Assuming the widespread vaccination campaign progresses as expected in May, June and July, “by early fall we’ll have good enough herd immunity to really get back to normal — schools, theaters, sporting events, restaurants ,” Fauci said.

Still, as the coronavirus pandemic raged through much of the United States for weeks, largely out of control, the prospect of fighting a more contagious virus emerged. California, the most populous state with a population of 40 million, has become the latest hotspot, with hospitals in and around Los Angeles reporting intensive care units being full.

Medical experts have attributed the worsening of the outbreak in recent weeks to the arrival of cold weather and the failure of many Americans to heed public health warnings to avoid social gatherings and unnecessary travel during the year-end holidays.

The result has been a surge in infections and hospitalizations, an overwhelmed healthcare system and a steadily rising death toll in the United States, which so far has surpassed 338,000 nationwide.

In addition to upending daily life in the U.S., the pandemic has dampened the economy and idled millions of workers in numbers not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

On Tuesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced the first U.S. case of the British variant. At a news conference Wednesday, Polis described the infected person as a National Guard soldier in his 20s who was dispatched to help respond to an outbreak at a nursing home in Simla, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.

The patient is isolating and recovering at home, and has no recent travel history. Dr. Henry Walker, the new crown epidemic response event manager of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that this is a sign of human-to-human transmission of the variant in the United States.

The director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment told reporters that a second member of the National Guard may also have been infected with the British variant, but final laboratory confirmation is still awaited.

This new variant has been found in several European countries as well as Canada, Australia, India, South Korea and Japan.

The US government on Monday began requiring all airline passengers arriving from the UK, including US citizens, to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure.

The government could expand coronavirus testing requirements for international air passengers outside the UK as early as next week, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York, Rich McKay in Atlanta, Keith Coffman in Denver and David Shepardson in Washington; Edited by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool

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