Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that Americans will need to keep wearing face masks until COVID-19 “is not a threat at all” during a Monday afternoon appearance on Fox News’ “Special Report.”
“Is there going to be a time when we are going to be, no masks?” anchor Bret Baier asked during the interview. “When is that time? If you had to guess, going to a sports game, going to a theater, going to a concert without a mask?”
“That will really be dependent upon how we get the level of virus in the community down,” Fauci responded. “If we can get — and I have used this as an estimate, it’s not definitive — but if we can get 70 to 85 percent of the population vaccinated, and get to what we would hope would be to a degree of herd immunity which really is an umbrella or a veil of protection against the community, where the level of virus is so low it’s not a threat at all, then at that point, you can start thinking in terms of not having to have uniform wearing of masks.”
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director predicted that the U.S. is “not near” a time when this could happen.
“If everything falls into the right place and we get this under control, it is conceivable that you might be able to pull back a bit on some of the public health measures as we get into the late fall of this year,” he continued. “But there’s no guarantee of that, because if we don’t get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, there’s still gonna be a considerable amount of virus in the community, and as long as that’s the case, people are gonna have to wear masks.” (RELATED: Dr. Anthony Fauci Says Two Masks Are Better Than One)
In mid-December, Fauci suggested a June timeline for a vaccine-induced herd immunity that could allow the removal of masks, but the vaccine rollouts have been slower than initial predictions. Just over 32 million people have received their first dose from Pfizer or Moderna, but less than 10 million have received the necessary second dose.