White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday it is unlikely the coronavirus will ever be eradicated.
While the virus will not disappear, it's possible world leaders and public health officials could work to bring the virus down to "low levels," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during an interview with the TB Alliance.
"I think with a combination of good public health measures, a degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine, which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic that we will get, I think when we put all three of those together, we will get control of this, whether it's this year or next year. I'm not certain," he said.
But, he added, "I don't really see us eradicating it."
Fauci's comments are at odds with President Donald Trump, who reiterated his claim Tuesday evening that the virus would disappear. The president's remark comes amid warnings from experts, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that Covid-19 cases and deaths could rise this fall.
"The virus will disappear. It will disappear," Trump said during a White House briefing on the pandemic.
The coronavirus is not disappearing and continues to rapidly spread across the U.S. The virus has infected more than 3.9 million people in the country, killing at least 142,090 as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Texas and Florida hit grim records Monday for daily coronavirus deaths based on a seven-day moving average, as hospitalizations continue to surge in 34 states.
Fauci said the virus is unlike SARS, a coronavirus that emerged in the early 2000s and was contained. He said Covid-19 is incredibly efficient in transmitting from human to human and can produce a wide range of symptoms in people. He said it's unlikely the virus will change into something like the common cold.
"I have never seen infection in which you have such a broad range literally no symptoms at all in a substantial proportion of the population to some who get ill with minor symptoms to some who get ill enough to be in bed for weeks," he said. "Others get hospitalized, require oxygen, intensive care, ventilation and death. The involvement with the same pathogen is very unique."
Fauci said officials have to do better in containing the virus as states attempt to reopen. On Tuesday, he said state officials should adopt mask mandates and close bars. He said Wednesday that U.S. health officials do not see "an end in sight" to the pandemic.
"We are certainly not at the end of the game" of the pandemic, Fauci said. "Certainly we are not winning the game right now. We are not beating it."
On Tuesday, Trump said the pandemic in the United States will probably "get worse before it gets better."
"That's something I don't like saying about things, but that's the way it is, it's what we have," he said. "You look over the world, it's all over the world."
However, he said he would not call for a nationwide shutdown, saying it would be "completely unsustainable, produce debilitating economic fallback and lead to catastrophic public health consequences.
He said the U.S. only initially shut down to prevent hospitals from overflowing and to give the public officials more time to secure the equipment and supplies needed to fight it, like ventilators.
Earlier this month, Fauci said U.S. coronavirus cases are surging because the nation didn't totally shut down. However, he has indicated the country might not need an "absolute shutdown" right now.