Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been speaking out about how to control the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of 152,000 Americans. Today he spoke with Wired about why the virus is still raging—and how we can get our arms around it. Read on to see how we can all end this together, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.
On Why There Have Been Outbreaks
“When you’re starting off with a baseline that already is very high, and then you try to open your country, and instead of listening carefully and adhering to the guidelines, some states—and I’m not going to name them—skipped over some of the checkpoints. They didn’t adhere to the guidelines, which essentially suggested a very measured, prudent way of opening step by step. In other states, the governors and mayors did it right. But in some—all you needed to do was take a look at some of the films. You see people congregating in crowds at bars with no masks on. We didn’t shut down fully, the baseline never came down to a real low level. And when we started to open up, we didn’t open up uniformly in a very strict way.”
On the Wrong Decision Young People Are Making
“I don’t want to be pejorative in blaming Americans. I don’t think they’re deliberately doing it. I don’t think they fully realize, and here’s why I say this: The infections taking place now, in the last few weeks, are much more disproportionately among young people….A substantial proportion of the people who get infected—20 to 45 percent—don’t have any symptoms at all. Many of those are very young people, millennials, the people who are out there at the bars. So they look around and say, ‘The chance of my getting sick from this virus is much, much, much lower than an elderly person, or than somebody with an underlying condition. So I’m just gonna do what I want. If I get infected, I’ll take my chances.’ The only thing about that inadvertent and maybe innocent misjudgment is that we’re starting to see that more and more young people do have serious outcomes from infection. But what they don’t realize is that, even if they don’t get any symptoms at all, by being careless and allowing themselves to get infected, they are becoming a part of the propagation of the outbreak. They are putting other people in danger by themselves getting infected. That’s the message we have to get across: You’ve got to have some social responsibility.”
On the Anti-Science Trend
“Obviously, there is a bit of an anti-science trend in the United States, a pushing back on authority telling you what to do. Sometimes, in a good vein, that could be the independent spirit of the American people. That is part of our character. But on the other hand, it can work against you.”
On When the Vaccine Will be Available to Us
“Probably by the end of this year, the beginning of 2021.”
On What He Wants to Learn from the Virus
“Well, I think we’re learning a lot about it. I think what we would really like to know is what are the long-term effects on people who recover from the coronavirus. Are they really totally normal after that, or do they have long-term negative consequences of having gotten infected?
This is a brand-new disease. We’ve only experienced it for a few months. We don’t really know what it means if you get really sick and recover. How are you going to be one, two, three years from now? Only time will give us the answer to that.”
On Whether Schools Should Reopen
“As a broad principle, we should try as best as we possibly can to get the kids to return to school, because of the negative unintended consequences of keeping the kids out of school, like the psychological health of the children, the nutrition of kids who get breakfast or lunch at school, to working parents who may not be able to adjust their schedules. So the default position is to try. However, while you do that, the one thing that you have to underscore—and that’s a big however—is that paramount among this has to be the safety and welfare of the children, of their teachers, and secondarily, of the families of the children. So there has to be some degree of flexibility.”
Do as Fauci Does
Scientific data backs hand washing, mask use, bar closures, limiting outdoor dining, and limiting social gatherings and crowds as effective prevention measures, and don’t miss Dr. Fauci’s 10 Worst Coronavirus Mistakes You Could Make.