U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged Wednesday the coronavirus may never be eliminated and that "much of the world" remains in the pandemic phase of the outbreak.
Fauci, an adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden and the Infectious Diseases Director at the National Institutes of Health and Infectious Diseases, made the assessment during a White House briefing on the pandemic.
"It is going to be very difficult, at least in the foreseeable future and maybe ever, to truly eliminate this highly transmissible virus," he said.
To put the battle against the coronavirus in perspective, Fauci said, "There's been only one disease that's a human disease that's been eradicated and that is smallpox."
He said "much of the world" is still "in some aspects in the pandemic phase of the outbreak" but is "seeing now a decline in acceleration" of new cases.
Fauci said health care experts are "looking for a level of control of the virus that would allow us to be able to essentially approach the kind of normal that we are all craving for."
Fauci emphasized that an adequate level of control can be achieved through vaccinations that he hoped would eventually lower new daily cases to "considerably less than 10,000."
He noted the U.S. still has "about 66 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated who remain unvaccinated."
"We're dealing with a situation where you have a highly transmissible virus and with the dynamics of the virus are at 80 to 90,000 cases a day. That's not where you want to be," he said.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in coronavirus deaths, with more than 717,000, and in new infections, with nearly 44.6 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.