The U.S. could return to some semblance of normality, like safely eating indoors at restaurants and going to the movies, by the mid-fall if enough people are vaccinated against the disease, White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday.
"So if we can get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated by let's say the end of the second, the beginning of the third quarter – by the time we get into mid-fall of 2021, we can be approaching some level of normality," Fauci told CNBC's Meg Tirrell during a special edition of the "Healthy Returns" conference.
To get back to normal, however, Fauci said between 75% and 85% of the population will need to to get inoculated against Covid-19. That would create an "umbrella" of immunity to prevent further spread of the virus, Fauci said.
"That would be able to protect even the vulnerables who have not been vaccinated, or those in which the vaccine has not been effective," Fauci said.
The infectious diseases expert, who will remain in a similar position next year as an advisor to President-elect Joe Biden on Covid-19, has predicted that enough doses of vaccine will available for all Americans beginning in late March and early April 2021. Fauci told CNBC that the National Institute of Health is waiting for their doses of vaccine to arrive, and he will get inoculated publicly "to serve as an example of the importance of getting vaccinated."
This week, 2.9 million of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine doses went out to 145 locations across the U.S., and more doses will hopefully come online if Moderna is granted an emergency authorization for their Covid-19 vaccine this week, Fauci said. The goal is to have roughly 40 million doses available by the end of the year, which would be enough to inoculate 20 million people since the vaccines require two doses, Fauci said.
Those supply predictions match what other U.S. health officials have repeatedly said. Earlier in the day, U.S. health officials told reporters vaccine deliveries in the U.S. remain on track, with another 886 orders expected to be shipped across the nation Thursday.
Initial doses of vaccine will be limited as manufacturing ramps up, with officials predicting it will take months to immunize everyone in the U.S. who wants to be vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided states with an outline that recommends prioritizing health-care workers and nursing homes first, but states can distribute the vaccine as they see fit.
But Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief science advisor for President Donald Trump's vaccine program Operation Warp Speed, told "Healthy Returns" that it's possible the U.S. could miss its year-end target by about 3 million as the number of doses made available typically fluctuate on a daily basis.
"The plan is for 40 [million]," he told CNBC during the interview. "Probably now is the plan for 37 [million]." Officials are giving numbers that are "risk-adjusted," he said, adding some months "we have a little bit more [doses] and some months we may have a little less."