(WGN) — U.S. health officials are warning that the nation is entering a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic as COVID-19 cases continue to spread in urban and rural areas.
“This is not a trivial disease to be taken lightly,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, told WGN Morning News Monday. “It’s historic in its proportions and should be taken seriously.”
Some officials fear the U.S. still doesn’t have a grasp on the pandemic. Most states are seeing a week-over-week rise in test positivity rate for the coronavirus, a strong indicator of how the virus is spreading. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s new forecast predicts nearly 20,000 more COVID-related deaths by Aug. 22. That breaks down to close to a thousand deaths per day between now and then.
Fauci said he is “cautiously optimistic” that vaccines now in development now will be effective.
“The earliest studies that we did in phase 1 showed that in a limited number of people that it induced the kind of response, namely a good, neutralizing antibody response, which is the gold standard of the thing you would expect would protect you,” he said. “It induces it at levels that are equivalent to, if not even better than, what happens when you recover from natural infection… That’s a very good sign.”
Fauci said a vaccine could be available at the beginning of next year.
To enroll in the vaccine trials, go to coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org.