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Virus Expert Just Said When We'd Get Back to "Normal"

It may not be that far away.

If Americans do the right things at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, normal life could be just a few months away, a top public health expert said on Wednesday.

"I think more than a year into this pandemic, everybody is just ready for it to be over and just to move on. We're getting closer, but unfortunately, we're not there yet," said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, at Axios' virtual event "COVID-19 Testing in a Post-Vaccine World." "Vaccines are incredibly important, and they're going to pave the path to normalcy for us." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Only 14% of Americans are Fully Vaccinated. It's Still Dangerous Out There, Says Expert.

According to CDC data, as of Mar. 25, about 46.3 million people have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus. But that's only about 14% of the population; experts say that number will need to reach 75% to 80% to achieve herd immunity. "The reality is the vast majority of us are still not protected from this virus by having been vaccinated," said Nuzzo. "So that is all the more reason why all of the measures we have been using for the last year remain essential."

That in view, Nuzzo predicted when normality will return, and what will be necessary to get there. "If we continue to keep people safe until they're able to get vaccinated — and that means adhering to some of the public health recommendations like, crucially, mask use, but also not prematurely opening high-risk venues that may lead themselves to outbreaks the next few months — I think by summertime," she said.

"And certainly, I'm hoping that fall will look a lot more normal, because we will have lower levels of infections, and we will no longer fear the devastating hospitalizations and deaths as we've seen over the past year."

RELATED: Doctors Say "DO NOT" Do This After Your COVID Vaccine.

How we Get Back to Normal: Vaccination

Nuzzo said she was not in favor of "vaccine passports" that would allow vaccinated people to travel freely throughout the world. "My worry is that pursuing vaccine passports is sort of the wrong answer to the question, 'How do we get back to normal?'" she said. "The answer is that we really end the pandemic in the sense of no longer worrying about its devastating tolls, and we're not going to get there until all countries are able to access vaccines. Unfortunately, I think passports are kind of a shortcut that take our eyes off the ball of needing to make sure that all countries have access."

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, get vaccinated when it's your turn, 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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