Anthony Fauci, MD, says talk about a second wave of the coronavirus is premature because the United States is still dealing with the first one.
The idea of a second wave is based on the 1918 flu pandemic, when many cases were seen in the spring, he says. The spring cases “literally disappeared” and were followed by a spike in flu cases in the fall, he told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, MD, on Thursday in an online conversation organized by Emory University.
“Rather than say, ‘A second wave,’ why don’t we say, ‘Are we prepared for the challenge of the fall and the winter?'” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.
Flu shots are an important measure to help the US get through the winter, he said.
He and other health care professionals have observed that the Southern Hemisphere has had a very light flu season, probably because measures to curb the coronavirus, such as social distancing and mask-wearing, have limited the spread of the flu.
“If we listen to the public health measures, not only would we diminish the effect of COVID-19, we might get away with a very, very light flu season if we combine that with getting the flu vaccine,” Fauci said.
In a separate interview, he said the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine will not stop the need for tried-and-true measures such as mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing.
In a Facebook Live conversation with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Fauci said the coronavirus vaccine will not be 100% effective and won’t be taken by the entire population. That means the virus could still spread.
“So when a vaccine comes, we look at it as an important tool to supplement the public health measures that we do,” he said. “It will allow us to more quickly and with less stringency get back to some degree of normal. But it is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures.”
Fauci said that vaccinating 75% to 80% of the population “would be a really good accomplishment.” He expects 700 million doses to be produced by the end of this year or early 2021.