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May 9, 2021, 6:35 p.m. EDT

COVID-19 vaccine means future outbreaks should only be ‘blips,’ Fauci says

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By Mike Murphy

COVID-19 vaccines are a “game-changer” that make future surges, like those seen last winter, unlikely to happen again, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Fauci — President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser — said future U.S. coronavirus outbreaks should just be just “blips” once about 70% of the population is vaccinated, a goal the Biden administration seeks by July 4.

More than 150 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far, about 34% of the population.

Fauci also said that people will probably continue to wear masks during “seasonal periods,” seeing how effective mask-wearing was against the most recent flu season.

“So it is conceivable that as we go on a year or two or more from now that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory borne diseases,” he said.

Fauci also said he has “no doubt” that the U.S. has undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths, which currently officially stand at more than 581,000, and that the next phase of vaccinations will aim at getting the vaccine to people “who seem to be recalcitrant.” That includes making vaccines more convenient, so people can simply walk into a pharmacy or clinic without making an online appointment first.

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