BERKELEY, Calif. -- Dr. Anthony Fauci has been at the front and center of the U.S. response to COVID-19. On Thursday night, he spoke during a fireside chat at UC Berkeley in California about the political climate of the pandemic and when we might see a return to normal.
"What we're involved with today is a divisiveness, the likes of which I've never seen," said Dr. Fauci, who has advised six presidents on serious U.S. and global health threats.
"The enemy is the virus," said Dr. Fauci, who said thinks he has been successful at shaping policy, while staying out of politics. "Science knows no political party."
Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci answered questions posed by students and faculty.
How have conspiracy theories affected public health efforts?
"The examples of people not wanting to wear masks, or not believing that if you just go in a crowd you're not going to get infected or if you do get infected it's going to be meaningless because it's a trivial outbreak. Well, how could it be a trivial outbreak if it's already killed 210,000 people in the United States and a million people worldwide?"
How can governments decrease racial disparities when it comes to the pandemic?
"Make sure there's testing there (in the affected communities), make sure they get their tests back very quickly. But then the big problem is, what do you do about the comorbidities? That relates to the social determinants of health that minorities have had to deal with since the day they were born."
What can colleges do to keep students safe?
"Test all the students before they come onto campus... Then do surveillance testing every few days... When a student gets infected, have the capability of isolating them."
When and how will there be a return to normal?
"Will people have to wear masks? Yes, likely. I would imagine if we get a good vaccine now, that we could have some degree of normality in the third to fourth quarter 2021."
"Right now, the five public health issues that we repeat over and over again, that would really prevent the surges that we're seeing, are universal wearing of a mask, keep physical distance at least six feet, avoid crowds and congregate settings, do things outdoors much more preferentially than indoors, and wash your hands as frequently as you can. Those are the things that we know now work."