DETROIT – Some of the top health officials in the nation testified about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic Tuesday before a Senate committee, and much of the questioning focused on what the situation will look like this fall.
Dr. Anthony Fauci made it very clear that even if the situation is more under control in the summer months, he doesn’t believe the coronavirus is going away. He said it will eventually return in the fall.
Fauci hopes by then, we’ll be better prepared to deal with the virus.
“I hope that if we do have a threat, a second wave, we will be able to deal with it very effectively to prevent it from becoming an outbreak,” Fauci said.
He stressed that senators should not expect a vaccine to be available in time for children when they return to school.
“The idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far,” Fauci said.
Experts said the strategy of keeping college campuses safe will depend on the level of community spread and the availability of testing.
“We expect there to be 25-30 million point of care tests per month available,” ADM Brett Giroir, M.D. said. “It is certainly possible to test all of the students, or it is much more likely that there would be a surveillance strategy done where you may test some of the students at different times.”
Fauci urged caution for younger children.
“I think we’d better be careful, if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects," Fauci said. “Children, in general, do much better than adults and the elderly, and particularly those with underlying conditions, but I am very careful and hopefully humbled knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease, and that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.”
The overriding theme of the hearing was that decisions about what happens in the fall will need to be made based on the amount of virus spreading in a community, the level of testing available and the ability to identify and contain new cases quickly.