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Anthony Fauci has some very good reasons to be Optimist.

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It could get worse: “I would have hoped that when we enter the autumn season, we would have had a baseline that was actually much, much lower than 40,000 cases.” Fauci does not think that we can reverse this trend easily without imposing an excessive burden on the economy.

In an alternate universe where WIRED25 would have been held in person would have greeted Director Anthony Fauci with a rock star attitude. Fauci, a strange combination of A-list celebrity and a level-headed grandfather, has managed to take the position of trusted voice immatured by the abysmal corruption of Covid disinformation that has been perpetuated by our president. Given the persistent risk of in-person events, Fauci could only speak with WIRED Editor Steven Levy and his many fans by videoconference. His message was one of optimism — as long as people in the USA can come together in taking reasonable safety measures.

Nevertheless, as is always the case he had some clean up work to do. Yesterday, during the presidential debate, Trump accuses Fauci of vacillating on whether masks would be effective against transmission of the novel coronavirus. A strange experience, that debate, was it said, said Fauci. To emphasise his point, he gave himself a new moniker: “I am the mask guy.”

And Mast Guy Fauci again highlighted the importance of masks and other basic measures to slow the spread of Covid as the country enters the winter flu season. Fauci said that without change we could face a dangerous winter. It is a very challenging and serious situation, because the baseline of infections are currently at about 40,000 a day,” he said. It could get worse: “I would have hoped that when we enter the fall season, we would have had a baseline that was really much, much lower than 40,000 cases.”

Fauci does not believe that we can reverse that trend easily without imposing an excessive burden on the economy. Neither do we talk about shutting down anything, he said. This is not a deliberate approach to reopening the economy – we are talking about wearing uniformly masks, avoiding crowds, keeping distance, doing things outside absolutely much preferentially than doing indoors, and washing your hands frequently. As the success of outdoor dining has shown, none of these measures need to be too disruptive to our typical way of life. “But they have a significant impact on whether you can get those surges to reduce,” said Fauci.

It is still September and we already have enough flu vaccine to protect the most American population according to Fauci — sure a good sign. However, when it comes to a Covid vaccine, there is widespread concern that the administration could push it out before it has been proven safe and effective, only for political reasons. Fauci however has total confidence in the process. The way the system is established, there are independent bodies who have access to the data that no other has access to,” he said. They decide on the basis of scientific data whether the vaccine is safe and effective.

Given how much money has been directed into the vaccine development pipeline, Fauci thinks there may come quite soon—but not quite as soon as President Trump would like. It is likely that we will know somewhere around November and December whether we have a safe and effective vaccine, says he. And since vaccine candidates are already made in large quantities, the doses will be available soon if they prove effective. Approximately 100 million doses are available at the end of December in December, ” said Fauci. By April, it will be up to 700 million doses.

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