Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told iHeartRadio’s “The Breakfast Club” on Friday that fully reopening the country could take as long as 16 months due to the need for a coronavirus vaccine.
Fauci noted during the interview that the entire process of reopening the country could take anywhere from a year to a year and a half even if the first phase starts relatively soon.
“We won’t have a vaccine for summer. It’s more likely we’ll have one for next winter,” he said.
“Certain parts of the country are ready to take the first steps. You can’t look at it like turning a light switch on and off,” Fauci said. “The program that we spoke about yesterday at the [White House] press conference is a very gradual, step by step [plan] where you have to fulfill certain criteria before you go to Phase 1.”
He added, “It really works. If you do that and [the number of COVID-19 cases] starts coming down, there’s no blips coming back, then you go to the next phase. It was built to be really, really careful about the safety and health of the American public. That’s the first thing. It’s gradual. It’s not on and off.”
Fauci said that because of the differences between regions, travel should still be discouraged to keep the virus from spreading from a highly-infected area to a less infected one.
“That’s the reason why, when we talk about travel, we say only essential travel that’s necessary for a particular area to fulfill their functions as a society,” he said. “If you look carefully at Phase 1, it still has a lot of restrictions. You have to stay 6 feet apart. No more than a crowd of 10. Washing hands carefully. Wearing masks. Even though there are people coming in, they have to make sure it isn’t ‘okay, guys, everything is open let’s do it.’ There’s still a lot of restrictions, even in the areas where they have already taken those first steps towards opening. “