Leading U.S. infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday warned Congress that a premature lifting of lockdowns could lead to additional outbreaks of the deadly coronavirus and hinder an economic recovery.
“I feel if that occurs, there is a real risk that you may trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control – which in fact paradoxically will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery.”
Appearing by webcam, Fauci offered a more sobering assessment than President Trump, who has been encouraging states to end the weeks-long shuttering of major parts of their economies.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) U.S. PRESIDENT TRUMP, SAYING:
“I want it open safely, but I want it open.”
Fauci strongly urged states to follow health experts' recommendations before reopening.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, SAYING:
“If some areas, cities, states or what have you jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks. So, therefore, I have been being very clear in my message to try to the best extent possible to go by the guidelines, which have been very well thought out and very well delineated."
And while Fauci said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the development of a vaccine, he said that expecting one by the fall – when college students normally return to campus – would be, "a bridge too far.”
He also said a rebound of the virus this fall is "entirely conceivable," and dismissed Trump’s notion that the virus may one day disappear.
[TRUMP]"'Cause you know this virus is going to disappear."
[FAUCI]“When you talk about ‘will this virus just disappear?’ – that is just not gonna happen, because it’s such a highly transmissible virus. And even if we get better control over the next several months, it is likely there will be virus somewhere on this planet that will eventually get back to us.”
The veteran doctor got pushback from Republican Senator Rand Paul – himself a former COVID-19 patient – who argued for schools to reopen by Fall.
[PAUL]“As much as I respect you Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all, I don’t think you’re the one person who gets to make a decision.”
[FAUCI]“First of all, Senator Paul, thank you for your comments – I have never made myself out to be the end-all and the only voice in this. We really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe. For example right now, children presenting with COVID-19 who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome, very similar to Kawasaki’s Sydrome. I think we better be careful, if are not cavalier.”
Fauci himself is in self-quarantine as he may have come into contact with either of two White House staff members who were diagnosed with COVID-19.
But as an “essential worker,” Fauci noted he may pop in and out of the White House.