Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that current vaccination levels indicate the United States could reach pre-pandemic levels of “normal life” by late August or early September.
Fauci made the comment during a virtual news briefing on herd immunity by the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
Fauci said their best estimates regarding when herd immunity would be reached and enough people are considered immune from the virus range between 70% to 85% of the U.S. population.
He said at current vaccination rates, that level should be reached at the end of the North American summer. But he also said that if the nation is vaccinating 2 million to 3 million people a day, society is increasingly more protected.
“You don’t have to wait until you get full herd immunity to get a really profound effect on what you can do,” he said.
Fauci said as the pace of vaccination ramps up, and the most vulnerable to the virus are protected, some government restrictions could be lifted.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cautioned that at this point, only about 10% of the population is fully vaccinated. But the CDC anticipated loosening federal guidelines as more people receive shots.
Fauci also said that a refusal from a significant number of people to get vaccinated will delay when the nation reaches the endpoint of the pandemic.
Also at the briefing, White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services procured an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.