President Trump’s infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday called the coronavirus his “worst nightmare” and warned that the fight against its spread is far from over.
The bleak outlook from Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, comes as the US continues to slowly reopen from lockdown while grappling with massive protests in cities over the police killing of George Floyd.
“In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world,” Fauci said during a virtual appearance at a conference held by Biotechnology Innovation Organization. “And it isn’t over yet.”
Fauci added that there is still a world of uncertainty around the virus and how it spreads and impacts the body. He said COVID-19 is much more complex that HIV, a virus he spent his career studying, because of the varying levels of seriousness in infections — from asymptomatic carriers to patients who develop fatal conditions.
“Oh my goodness,” Fauci added. “Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of really understanding.”
Fauci said vaccines will be the only way to stop the spread of the coronavirus though he did express confidence that an antidote is in the works.
He expects “more than one winner in the vaccine field because we will need vaccines for the entire world — billions and billions of doses,” he said.
“I’m very heartened by the fact that the industry has stepped to the plate — very much differently than what we saw with SARS,” Fauci said. “The industry is not stupid — they figured it out. SARS had a degree of transmissibility that it burned itself out with pure public health measures. No way is that going to happen with this virus.”
COVID-19 shines a “bright light” on the health disparities in the US, Fauci added. And as the US climbs out of its public health crisis, Fauci said resources must be focused on the most vulnerable communities, namely African Americans, who because of a variety of factors — including socioeconomic and employment — have been hit “getting hit with a double whammy” from the virus.
“[African Americans] have a greater proportion of jobs that don’t allow them to sit in front of a computer and do telework. They’re out there. they’re doing a lot of things physically where you to have interact,” Fauci said.
The nation’s top coronavirus expert also warned against trying to implement price controls on manufacturers of vaccines.
“As much as you’d like to see fair pricing,” you can’t force a price,” he said, reasoning that companies would simply walk away if faced with a price-control on vaccines.
“It’s a profit-driven industry,” Fauci went on, adding that companies “will in good faith make it available to those groups, countries, nations that really can’t afford it very well.”