“I don’t think we’re going to talk about going back to the lockdown,” he said when asked if places like California and Texas that are seeing their workloads increase should reissue orders from home support.“I think we’re going to talk about trying to better control the regions of the country that seem to have an outbreak. ”
The United States leads the world in terms of the number of confirmed infections and deaths, with the death toll approaching 120,000.
But while the former New York and New Jersey epicenters have controlled their epidemics, the virus is now on the increase in 20 states – creating a plateau in the national case graph.
Fauci stressed a localized approach as the country returns to normal – including the crucial question of when to reopen schools.
“The counties where there is certainly no case, there is no problem with the opening of schools,” he said.
“There are other parts where there is a modest amount of infection (where) you can delay opening schools. ”
For these intermediate regions, “You want to make a change to the process, which is to alternate the days in the morning versus the afternoon, sit people apart from each other with masks. ”
On the issue of reopening the country’s borders, he took a cautious note.
“Obviously, there is an interest in returning to some form of normalcy in our interactions with other countries,” he said, adding that the subject was reviewed almost daily but refusing to give a timetable.
The 79-year-old has headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and oversees the country’s response to every HIV epidemic.
A growing problem, however, has been the loss of public confidence in science, especially during the current crisis.
“Even when the recommendations are to wear a mask, a recommendation that I was involved in formulating, there are some groups that actually make the recommendations very strictly,” said Fauci.
“And then … you see pictures of people in bars and in congregations without that. Again, it’s a mixed bag. ”
Many members of the scientific community have described the development of a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus as “lunar fire” because there has never been an effective vaccine against a human coronavirus.
Then there is the fact that scientists have not developed an HIV vaccine, despite attempts for decades.
Fauci stressed that the two were not comparable.
“The reason I have more confidence in the coronavirus is that we know that the majority of people recover from COVID-19 because their immune systems clear the virus,” he said.
“So nature has already given you proof of concept that it can be done. ”
Since people who recover produce anti-virus antibodies, scientists are confident that these antibodies can also be caused by a human-made antigen.
Fauci added that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the National Institute of Health’s first animal studies of the Moderna vaccine, as well as the first results of the human study that produced “encouraging” neutralizing antibodies.
But he added that just because the Moderna vaccine and another product from the University of Oxford was “temporally ahead” doesn’t mean their end results would be the best.
On the treatment front, Fauci said he was “very impressed” with the results of a British trial of the steroid dexamethasone, which has reduced deaths among COVID-19 patients on respirators by a third.
However, since it works by suppressing the abnormal immune response that damages organs in the body, rather than attacking the virus, Fauci warned that it should not be prescribed too soon after a person is infected.
“It had no effect, if not perhaps even a suggestion to make matters worse at first,” he said. “This is perfectly consistent with knowing that at the start of infection, you need the immune system to suppress the virus. “