The presidential election was nearly two weeks ago, but President Trump has yet to concede, which is delaying the transition process. “Obviously it’s something we’re concerned about,” Dr. Fauci said. “I’ve served in six administrations, so I’ve seen a number of transitions. And I know that transitions are very important.” Essentially, you want to see the passing of a baton without stopping running, he explained. “You want things to go very smoothly. Hopefully, we’ll see that soon.”
That smooth transition process is important for many reasons, and it’s especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The virus is not going to stop and call a time-out while things change. The virus is just going to keep going. The process is just going to keep going,” Dr. Fauci said, noting that the vaccine development process is just now “going in the very, very strong right direction.”
Early data analyses suggest that vaccines developed by both Pfizer and Moderna are effective, so Dr. Fauci said he would want to get a vaccine approved as quickly as possible. “We want to get doses to people starting in December, and then we want to really get the ball rolling as we get into January, February, and March,” he said. “We want a smooth process with that—and the way you do that is by essentially having the two groups speak to each other and exchange information.”
It’s crucial that there’s a productive transition process soon—especially now that the U.S. is in the midst of the winter coronavirus spike that Dr. Fauci and other experts warned us about. “But we can do something about it,” he said. “Yes, it’s a very serious situation. We know that there’s COVID fatigue and people are tired of the restrictions. But there are fundamental things that we talk about all the time—the physical distancing, the washing of hands, the universal wearing of masks, the staying away from crowds—if we do that uniformly throughout the country, we don’t have to accept major surges. We can blunt them.”
The promise of a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon is encouraging too, “but the fact that help is on the way should spur us even more to double down on some of the public health measures,” Dr. Fauci said. That way we would “be able to use the combination of a vaccine and public health measures to turn this thing around. We can do it.”
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