The Atlantic – James Hamblin – The coming months of the pandemic could be catastrophic. The U.S. still has ways to prepare…”It is now widely accepted among experts that the United States is primed for a surge in cases at a uniquely perilous moment in our national history. “As we approach the fall and winter months, it is important that we get the baseline level of daily infections much lower than they are right now,” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told me by email. For the past few weeks, the country has been averaging about 40,000 new infections a day. Fauci said that “we must, over the next few weeks, get that baseline of infections down to 10,000 per day, or even much less if we want to maintain control of this outbreak.” This may be the most salient warning he has issued at any point in the pandemic. Cutting an infection rate as high as ours by 75 percent in a matter of weeks would almost certainly require widespread lockdowns in which nearly everyone shelters in place, as happened in China in January. That will not happen in the United States. Donald Trump has been campaigning for reelection on just the opposite message. He has promised that normalcy and American greatness are just around the corner. He has touted dubious treatments and said at least 34 times that the virus will disappear. This disinformation is nearing a crescendo now that the election looms: Trump has been teasing a vaccine that could be available within weeks.
The cold reality is that we should plan for a winter in which vaccination is not part of our lives. Three vaccine candidates are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the U.S., and the trials’ results may arrive as early as November. But even if they do—and even if they look perfect—it would not mean that a vaccine would be widely available. On Wednesday, Redfield said in a congressional hearing that a vaccine was unlikely to be widely available until summer of next year, if not later. Fauci may be even less optimistic. He told my colleague Peter Nicholas that if the clinical trials go well, it could mean a few million doses could be available by early 2021. By the time we got to 50 million to 100 million doses, he estimated, “you’re going to be well into 2021.” If each person needs two doses, as many experts expect, that would be enough to vaccinate roughly 11 percent of the population…”