By Helene Fung
Director of America’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the expert leading the National Coronavirus Task Force, Dr Anthony Fauci, openly disagreed with President Donald Trump’s comment a day prior that he believed the country has “rounded the corner” on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have to disagree with that, because, if you look at the thing that you just mentioned, the statistics … they are disturbing,”said Dr Fauci.
The US has thus far clocked up 6.4 million COVID-19 cases and the death toll stands above 190,000, and they are about to enter the flu season with a high baseline of 40,000 cases and 1,000 deaths per day. For infection control, it would be crucial to lower the infection rates before the northern hemisphere autumn and winter, when people will be spending more time indoors.
“If you’re talking about getting back to a degree of normality which resembles where we were prior to COVID, it’s going to be well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021.”
This was in marked contrast with the “honeymoon period” in the early days of the pandemic, when Dr Fauci and Mr Trump often appeared side by side in daily press conferences.
Their relationship diverged as Dr Fauci linked the increase in cases to premature reopening of the economy, which was contrary to Mr Trump’s policy. This being an election year has politicised the handling of the pandemic beyond simply a matter of public health.