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Dr. Fauci Just Said How Long the Coronavirus Will Last

Is global eradication of COVID-19 a realistic goal?

Dr. Anthony Fauci is often asked these days about how long the world will be grappling with the coronavirus. He was asked again on Friday's Late Show With Stephen Colbert. "I have to be honest with you. I don't know," he replied. "When you deal with viruses, there are three ways you do it," explained the country's leading infectious disease expert. "You can either control it, you can eliminate it, or you can eradicate it. We've only eradicated one human virus, and that's smallpox." Read on to hear what his goal is—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

"We've controlled other viruses," said Fauci

Smallpox was officially declared eradicated in 1980, after a two-decade global vaccination campaign. The COVID vaccine effort is only months old, and health experts are now contending with several variants of the virus that may be less responsive to vaccines and treatments.  

Fauci said that even some diseases that we consider conquered, like polio, haven't technically been eradicated. "We've eliminated several [diseases] from countries, like we've eliminated polio from the United States," he said. "We haven't eradicated it, but we've eliminated it. We've controlled other viruses. What I would like to see is at least something between control and elimination. 

"I'm not sure that we're going to eradicate it because there are so many people that are infected with it now. But let's make that an aspirational goal to eradicate it, but at least to control it and to hopefully eliminate it in most of the countries." 

RELATED: If You Feel This You May Have Already Had COVID Says Dr. Fauci

Fauci may revise his stance on post-vaccination masking

Last week, President Biden directed states to make all Americans eligible for vaccination by May 1, and set a goal that Americans should be able to have small family gatherings for July 4. But Fauci and other health experts have warned that it will be necessary to continue taking public-health precautions outside of the home, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, into next year.

During the Colbert interview, Fauci warned that people who've been vaccinated can still transmit the virus to others, but he softened his previous stance a bit. "You should wear a mask," after you've been vaccinated, he said, "but recent data are indicating that the level of virus in your nasal pharynx, if you're vaccinated, is extremely low. And I think a couple of months from now, I might modify that statement and say it would be extremely unusual that you transmitted. But right now, just to be careful, wear a mask."

How to survive this pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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