WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nation’s top health officials testified before a Senate committee today and much of the questioning focused on what’s going to happen this fall.
Dr. Fauci made it very clear — even if we do get better control of the virus in the summer months, he believes it is not going to just go away, and it will eventually return in the fall. But he hopes we will be better prepared to deal with it.
“I hope that if we do have a threat, a second wave, we will be able to deal with it very effectively to prevent it from becoming an outbreak,” said Dr. Fauci.
But Dr. Fauci stressed that senators should not expect a vaccine will be available in time for kids returning to school.
“The idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far,” said Dr. Fauci.
Experts said the strategy of keeping college campuses safe will depend on the level of community spread and the availability of testing.
“We expect there to be 25 to 30 million point of care tests per month available. It is certainly possible to test all of the students, or it is much more likely that there would be a surveillance strategy done where you may test some of the students at different times,” said Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, assistant secretary of HHS.
For younger children, Dr. Fauci urged caution.
“I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” said Dr. Fauci. “Children, in general, do much much better than adults and the elderly and particularly those with underlying conditions, but I am very careful and hopefully humbled knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease and that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.”
The over-riding theme of Tuesday’s hearing was that decisions about what happens in the fall will need to be made based on the amount of virus spreading in a community, the level of testing available, and our ability to identify and contain new cases quickly.