Anthony Fauci Says Life May Be 'Quite Normal' by Fall With 1 Million Daily COVID Vaccines

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease specialist, has said that America will need to reach a target of administering at least one million vaccinations every day in order to return to some form of "normality."

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News on Sunday that a return to normal by fall is feasible but would require widespread herd immunity among the U.S. population. And achieving sufficient herd immunity would "totally" depend on the uptake of vaccines, he said.

"If we get 70 to 85 percent of the population vaccinated and we start right now, we're getting the people who are in the priority groups," Fauci said. "By the time we get to the end of March, the beginning of April, I would have hoped that we would have taken care of all of those priority [groups] and have what I call 'open season' on vaccines—namely, anybody who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine."

"If from April, May, June, July and August, we do the kind of vaccine implementation that I'm talking about—at least a million people a day and maybe more—by the time we end the summer and get to the fall, we will have achieved that level of herd immunity that I think will get us back to some form of normality, and maybe quite normal."

By the end of December, an average of around 200,000 people were being vaccinated every day in the United States.

But many states only used a small percentage of the vaccine doses they received for the month, and the target set by the Trump administration of achieving 20 million vaccinations by the end of 2020 was not met.

Officials have blamed delays in the rollout of vaccines across the country on a mixture of supply issues, complex storage requirements, and the fact that local public health agencies are already under significant strain.

With the U.S. in the grips of a third major wave of COVID-19 infections, Fauci said these issues were just part and parcel of trying to get a mass vaccination program up and running.

"There have been a couple of glitches, that's understandable. I think the important thing is to see what's happening in the next week to week-and-a-half."

Fauci said around four million Americans have now been vaccinated, although this figure is clearly significantly short of the 20 million figure predicted by Operation Warp Speed—the Trump administration's coronavirus vaccine initiative.

"But some little glimmer of hope is that in the last 72 hours, they've gotten 1.5 million doses into people's arms, which is an average of about 500,000 a day—which is much better than the beginning when it was much, much less than that," Fauci said on Sunday.

"So we are not where we want to be, there's no doubt about that. But I think we can get there if we really accelerate, get some momentum going and see what happens as we get into the first couple of weeks of January."

Anthony Fauci at the NIH
Anthony Fauci looks on after receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. PATRICK SEMANSKY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images