PHILADELPHIA — Dr. Anthony Fauci held a virtual conference with doctors at Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Thursday to discuss the future of the battle against the coronavirus.
And that battle is far from over, Fauci said.
Fauci addressed the doctors as coronavirus cases appear to be surging again in Pennsylvania.
During the conference, he said wearing masks and practicing social distancing will likely be necessary toward the end of 2021 into 2022, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“I feel very strongly that we’re going to need to have some degree of public-health measures to continue,” he said. “Maybe not as stringent as they are right now.”
The potential long-term use of masks and social distancing is due to what he predicts as being a roughly 70 percent effectiveness rate for coronavirus vaccines. Masks have been mandatory in public spaces in Pennsylvania since the beginning of July, when the governor issued an order.
The Inquirer reports Fauci does not want the public to expect vaccines to be a “knockout punch” that will eradicate the virus.
“I tend to be conservative in my projections of what’s going to happen,” he told the doctors. “I think we’ve got to set reasonable expectations. If I’m surprised pleasantly, so be it.”
Fauci said he expects a vaccine will have enough studies done to prove its efficacy by November or December with potential distribution in early 2021, which Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Farley has also said.
Pennsylvania is seeing a marked increase in cases of coronavirus.
Despite 10 days of Pennsylvania recording more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases a day, health officials say there are currently “no plans” for mitigation measures such as stay-at-home orders or additional business closures.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Wednesday that the resurgence has already appeared to have started in the state.
There have now been a total of 177,520 cases and 8,432 total deaths in Pennsylvania since the start of the pandemic, as of Thursday. Cases nationwide are on the rise, too, Levine noted.
“We believe that we are at the start of the fall resurgence,” Levine said, adding state officials have been preparing for this for months.
But will the fall resurgence look like the spring in terms of mitigation measures?
“It’s hard to predict what future will bring,” Levine said. She noted that while stay-at-home measures and business closures were utilized as a mitigation strategy in the spring, there are now many more resources than at that time.
There’s been a significant increase in testing, case investigation, and contact tracing, Levine said, adding the state’s health care system is now better prepared. Plus, there is more PPE than in the spring.
“We have no plans to have any further business restrictions or stay at home orders at this time,” Levine said. And while she said it’s “impossible for me to predict the future,” the state is in “a much better place” then in the spring when those measures were needed.