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Anthony Fauci testifying before the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in July. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/AFP via Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC on Friday that it's unlikely life in the U.S. will go back to normal by the end of 2020, saying pre-coronavirus conditions may not return until "well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021."

Why it matters: Fauci's statements are at odd with recent comments from President Trump, who has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the country is ”rounding the turn” on the coronavirus pandemic.

What they're saying: “If you're talking about getting back to a degree of normality which resembles where we were prior to COVID, it's going to be well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021," Fauci told MSNBC.

  • Fauci took issue with Trump's characterization of the pandemic, calling current trends "disturbing."
  • "I believe that we will have a vaccine that will be available by the end of this year, the beginning of next year. But by the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccinations and you get the majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that's likely not going to happen until the mid- or end of 2021."
  • "We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy. We know every time we restrict, we lift restrictions, we get a blip."

By the numbers: More than 192,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S., while 6.4 million have tested positive, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The big picture: Responding to Trump's admission to journalist Bob Woodward that he downplayed the seriousness of the virus to avoid inciting panic, Fauci called the president's understatements "a threat."

  • "When you downplay something that is really a threat, that's not a good thing," Fauci said.
  • However, he also told Fox News this week that he "didn't get any sense" that Trump "was distorting anything" about the virus.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Dec 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

America's "very dark winter" begins

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

It's a fitting end to a crappy year: White House officials are calling us in a panic about President Trump’s erratic behavior. England is panicking about a possible super-spreading virus strain. And vaccine distribution is hitting bumps.

Why it matters: Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain was right when he warned of a "very, very, very dark winter."

Dec 20, 2020 - Health

U.S. surgeon general: No evidence that U.K.'s new COVID-19 strain will affect vaccinations

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Sunday there are "no indications" that a new strain of COVID-19, said to be identified in England, will slow U.S. vaccination efforts.

Driving the news: Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium have announced plans to restrict travel from the U.K. due to concerns over the new variant, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "may be up to 70% more transmissible" than the original version of the disease.

Dec 20, 2020 - Health

CDC panel says adults over 75, essential workers should be next in line for vaccine

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Falmouth Health Centre on Dec. 20 in Falmouth, England. Photo: Hugh Hastings/Getty Images

Americans 75 and older along with roughly 30 million "frontline essential workers" should be next in line to get coronavirus vaccinations, a group of experts that make recommendations to the CDC voted on Sunday, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: Adults over 75 are eight times more likely to be hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus. Essential workers are at an elevated risk for COVID-19 infections and are disproportionately people of color, who face higher mortality rates from the coronavirus than white people.