WASHINGTON: America's top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has urged citizens not to abandon masks and social distancing even after a vaccine against the novel coronavirus was available to all.
He made the remarks during a CNN interview on Sunday when asked if people could go back to their normal lives once the vaccine was available, reports The Hill news magazine.
In response, Fauci said: "I would recommend that that is not the case. I would recommend you have an added area of protection.
"Obviously, with a 90-plus percent effective vaccine, you could feel much more confident. But I would recommend to people to not abandon all public health measures just because you have been vaccinated, because even though, for the general population, it might be 90 to 95 per cent effective, you don't necessarily know, for you, how effective it is."
The US is working with a portfolio of six vaccines, using three different platform technologies and two candidates from each platform: messenger RNA, live viral vectors and recombinant protein.
Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines use the messenger RNA platform, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University are on the live vector path while Novavax and Sanofi/ GlaxoSmithKline are building out their vaccine candidates on the recombinant protein platform. Pfizer has announced that it has achieved 90 per cent efficacy and hopes to file for emergency use authorisation as soon as its final efficacy results arrive in the third week of November.
The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was also asked in the interview if it was safe for Americans to celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, to which he replied that it "depends on a number of factors".
"We are not going to turn it on and off, going from where we are to completely normal. "It's going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by, as we get well into 2021," The Hill news website quoted Fauci as further saying in the interview.
The top expert's remarks come as the US, currently the world's worst-hit country by the pandemic, has registered more than 11 million coronavirus cases and over 246,000 deaths.
As of Monday, the country's overall number confirmed cases and the death toll stood at 11,029,470 and 246,129, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
More than 45 states are currently witnessed record spikes during the pandemic's winter surge.
Hospitals are at capacity in several states and doctors are pleading with Americans to hunker down because the "vaccines are coming, it's just a matter of a couple of months". (IANS)