Dr. Anthony Fauci joins CSU Chancellor in forum discussing COVID-19

‘We will get back to normality’

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Estefany Nuñez

Dr. Anthony Fauci joined a virtual forum with California State University Chancellor Timothy White Friday to discuss COVID-19 and public health. Fauci said students could be able to return to school in 2021 and the general population could receive the COVID-19 vaccine as early as April 2021. Screenshot taken via CSU livestream.

Estefany Nuñez

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joined  California State University Chancellor, Timothy White and 23 CSU presidents for a virtual forum about COVID-19 and health and safety on college campuses Friday. 

Fauci, who is expected to join President-elect Joe Biden’s administration as chief medical adviser Jan. 20, said the country and the state of California are at a crossroads due to the significant amount of rising coronavirus cases and the pending vaccines trials happening right now. 

“Obviously we’re going through the most extraordinary experiences of historic outbreak, the impact and likes of which we haven’t seen on this planet in the 102 years since the pandemic of 1918,” Fauci said. 

To keep students in the CSU system safe, Fauci recommended White and CSU presidents test students prior to them returning to campus and continue surveillance to ensure there is not a campus outbreak. 

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Fauci also said that the wearing of a face mask is the most important safety precaution students can take, along with keeping physical distance from others and avoiding congregations of groups in indoor settings even during the holidays, to prevent a surge in cases. 

Under Biden’s administration, Fauci said he will make it a high priority to get children back into school, get teachers vaccinated and increase surveillance in schools to track infection spreading.

Fauci said students can potentially get back to some form of normality in 2021 if vaccinations are done efficiently. 

RELATED: CSU plans for in-person classes in fall 2021

While essential workers, elderly people, and people with underlying health conditions will be the first to receive the vaccine, Fauci predicts the general population will begin to receive the vaccine in April.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccination projected to reach general public by April 2021

However, Fauci said rising COVID-19 cases and the scarce ICU bed capacity in California hospitals will cause a challenging few months as the country continues to distribute the vaccines. 

“California is being hit as hard as any state in the union to the point where you’re at the verge of — in some sections of the state — to have your healthcare system overrun,” Fauci said.

White also brought up how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color and underscored many long standing societal inequalities, asking how people of color were represented during the vaccine trials. 

Fauci said it was “quite frankly more difficult to get minority populations, Latina, and African-Americans into clinical trials that have a major component run by the federal government because of the government’s difficult history of medical research.”

“It’s really important to get minorities represented in the trial because when the trial is shown to be safe and effective, you can then look at the community in the eye and say, this vaccine is safe and effective in you, in you and your people, so we’ve proven it by a clinical trial,” he said. “That’s much better than saying ‘take the vaccine and take our word for it.’” 

Fauci said now that there are safe vaccines, it is important for everyone from all demographics to take the vaccine to encourage its effectiveness. 

 “It is the only way that we’re going to end this epidemic,” Fauci said.  

Fauci said vaccinating 70% to 85% of the population would create an umbrella or herd immunity effect over the population to the point that infections of coronavirus would be much less likely. He said there’s a difference between the individual efficacy of the vaccine itself and the effectiveness of the vaccine throughout the country, which depends on how many people are vaccinated. 

“If we have a 94 to 95% efficacious vaccine, but we vaccinate 40 to 50% of the people, that’s not an effective vaccine program, so we need to make sure that we make that efficacy turn into effectiveness,” Fauci said.

Fauci said that Cal State University students should realize they are unique because they arere living through a historic event. 

“We can pull together and get through it and when this is all over and it will end, the students have to realize this will end and we will get back to normality,” Fauci said. “We would have learned lessons, but we’ll get back to normality.”