Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said Wednesday he doesn’t think COVID-19 will ever be fully eradicated but noted it can be controlled.
“I don’t see this disappearing the way SARS 1 did,” Fauci said during a livestreamed event hosted by the TB Alliance, a nonprofit focused on finding better tuberculosis treatments.
The SARS outbreak that started in 2003 lasted several months and mostly affected Asian countries before eventually vanishing. But in the process the disease sickened more than 8,000 people in 29 countries and claimed 774 lives.
Because COVID-19 is more contagious, it has had a far greater impact, with more than 15 million cases worldwide, including 618,000 deaths.
“It is so efficient in its ability to transmit from human to human that I think we ultimately will get control of it. I don’t really see us eradicating it,” Fauci said.
President Trump has repeatedly said the virus will eventually disappear, even though that is rare for most infectious diseases.
Fauci, who is a member of the White House coronavirus task force, recently responded to Trump’s characterization of him as “a little bit of an alarmist” on the pandemic by saying he prefers to think of himself as “a realist.”
During Wednesday’s interview, Fauci described ways that the U.S. can get the coronavirus under control.
“I think with a good combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine, which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic we will get, I think when you put all three of those together we will get very good control of this. Whether it’s this year or next year, I’m not certain,” he added.
“We’ll bring it down to such a low level that we will not be in the position we are right now for an extended period of time.”