Fauci says history can lead us forward in the coronavirus pandemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said one way the nation can break free of the coronavirus pandemic might be by paying attention to history.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke at a forum Thursday at the Washington National Cathedral.

He noted that in the Spanish Flu pandemic over a hundred years ago, areas that followed basic public health measures, such as “universal wearing of masks, the physical distancing, the avoiding congregate and crowded places, outdoors better than indoors, washing hands” did far better than other areas.

Fauci said he knows the public has coronavirus fatigue, but there are hopeful signs, such as a vaccine. “We will start giving vaccines in December, and then as we get into January, February March, we’ll get the prioritization the people who need it the most.”

Asked whether the U.S. was doing something horribly wrong, since cases are again surging across the country, Fauci said he would not put it that way, but said “we did not act in a unified way.” He added “we had too much individual approaches towards how we were going to handle the outbreak.”

Fauci said in the opening months of the coronavirus pandemic not enough was done to lower the rate of community spread, and as big parts of the country are trying to reopen, the coronavirus is taking advantage of that and spreading widely.

WATCH: Dr. Fauci talks about the “risk/benefit” analysis all families need to do when making Thanksgiving plans.

“What we really need is testing for people who don’t have symptoms, because that’s where community spread is happening,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, told the forum.

Collins said new technologies are being developed that would help, for example, test college students quickly so universities could stay open and not send everyone home when there’s a COVID-19 outbreak.

He said there is also an emphasis on developing a test that could be done in your own home.

The forum’s setting, the National Cathedral, also was part of the discussion. Collins noted that there is some anecdotal evidence that people with a faith system, sometimes do better battling disease.

Collins, noting the prayer that was offered at the opening of Thursday night’s discussion, said “the Dean started off this evening with Psalm 46, which has certainly been very much on my mind. ‘God is our refuge and strength and ever present help in trouble.’” He added “and we’re in trouble.”

Collins said although it is up to Americans to figure out how to help one another, it is reassuring that “there is something more that you can see here.”

WATCH: Dr. Collins Fauci talks about COVID-19 and vaccines.


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