Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during CNN's "State of the Union" that it's "possible" for Americans to need to continue wearing their face masks until 2022, even after the country has reached a certain "degree of normality."
While Fauci did admit he can't see into the future to know when the country could return to normal pre-pandemic life, he did say he believes by the end of the year, the United States could have "a significant degree of normality beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year."
"As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with [President Biden] completely, that we will be approaching a degree of normality," Fauci said. "It may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019 but it’ll be much much better than we’re doing right now."
Dr. Fauci says that it's "possible" that Americans will be wearing masks in 2022.
"When it goes way down and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying, you know, 'We need to pull back on the masks'" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/8Upirj9VGb
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 21, 2021
However, Fauci stressed that it is just an estimate and that "a lot of things can happen to modify that."
"That’s the reason why we’ve got to be careful," Fauci added. "Because you have variance that you need to deal with. There are so many other things that would make a projection that I give you today on this Sunday, wind up not being the case six months from now."
Fauci explained that the community prevalence of the coronavirus will be the determining factor as to when Americans will not need to wear masks, noting that he would like to see the level of transmission drop to a baseline so low that there is a "minimal threat that you will be exposed to someone who is infected."
"If you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you are going to be able to say you know for the most part we don’t necessarily have to wear masks," Fauci said. "When it goes way down, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying you know we need to pull back on the masks, we don’t need to have masks."
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 63 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have now been distributed across the United States.