In a series of dire warnings, Dr Fauci suggested humankind is not even halfway through its battle with coronavirus. He also does not expect the virus to be eradicated altogether or disappear in the same way SARS-1 did.
Dr Fauci made his comments in a scientific panel event called Fighting Pandemics: 2020 and Beyond, hosted by the TB Alliance.
He was asked by Betsy McKay, The Wall Street Journal Senior Writer, to describe the coronavirus pandemic in terms of a baseball game.
He said: “Well, we are certainly not at the end of the game; I’m not even sure we’re half way through.
“Certainly, we are not winning the game right now; we are not leading it.
Anthony Fauci has been advising the Trump administration for months
“I don’t mean to be melodramatic about it, but it is really an infectious diseases public health person’s … worst nightmare.”
Dr Fauci said COVID-19 was “particularly formidable” because it has a combination of “very, very, compellingly imposing” characteristics.
These include its ability to jump from animal to human; the fact humans have no known background immunity; and the fact it is spread through the respiratory system.
There were two particular characteristics that stood out to the public health expert.
Dr Fauci said COVID-19 is “spectacularly efficient in spreading” from person to person
He said: “One, it’s spectacularly efficient in spreading from human to human.
“And two, it has a substantial degree of morbidity, or mortality, particularly in certain populations of people such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions.”
Dr Fauci also voiced his concerns about the US and other countries easing their lockdown restrictions for economic reasons.
The expert said he did not see an “end in sight”, and warned the US has “gotten hit harder than any other country.”
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Dr Fauci and Mr Trump have been at odds at certain points throughout the pandemic
However, the disease expert did issue some words of optimism.
He suggested he did not think coronavirus “ultimately is going to be our worst killer”.
He said: “With a combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity, and a good vaccine – which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic that we will get – I think that when you put all three of those together, I think we will get very good control of this.
“Outbreaks of new infectious diseases occur. They always have occurred, they are occurring right now – we’re in the middle of one – and they will always occur. No matter how good we are.”
A Florida health worker conducts a drive-through COVID-19 test
The scientific panel featured The Wall Street Journal senior writer Betsy McKay as well as Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation, and Dr Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Professor of Medicine at Columbia University and Founding Board Member of the TB Alliance.
Dr Fauci has been at odds with US president Donald Trump in the past.
According to ABC News, White House sources have said the public health advisor has been referred to among Mr Trump’s aides as “Dr Gloom and Doom.”
News outlets also reported on a document issued by the White House stating officials were “concerned about the number of times Dr Fauci has been wrong on things.”