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National Institutes of Health infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told "The Ingraham Angle" Thursday that while America will not completely resume normal life without a coronavirus vaccine, the country could return to "a significant degree of normality" before then.
Fauci spoke to Ingraham hours after the White House unveiled the coronavirus task force's guidelines for easing restrictions that have been put in place in states and cities around the country. Fauci, along with task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, signed off on the guidelines before they were rolled out.
"[The White House plan] is a gradual process [that] takes into account that we have a heterogeneous dynamic of outbreaks throughout the country," Fauci told Ingraham. "... California is really different than New Orleans. It is really different than New York or Detroit ... places like Arkansas and New Mexico are very different. So what this plan does [is], it creates a baseline of a starting point, which we call the gating, where you have to have a certain degree of indication that the outbreak is decreasing over a period of time."
At one point, Ingraham asked Fauci to respond to criticism of the new guidelines from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
"I wouldn't call it a plan," Biden told CNN. "I think what he's [Trump's] done [is], he's kind of punted. He's decided that he doesn't have the right to make the call for the country. This isn't going to be over until we have a vaccine."
Fauci said he partially agred with Biden, saying the pandemic is "not going to be over to the point of our being able to not do any mitigation until we have a scientifically sound, safe and effective vaccine, but that does not mean that we can't approach a significant degree of normality."
"One of the things that we said very clearly [is], that throughout all of those phases, there's a baseline level of care that we would have to be addressing that we didn't have before we had this outbreak," Fauci continued. "So whether you're on Phase 1 and still tightened up a bit or you've already graduated to Phase 3, there are still guidelines for all phases."
The doctor said the phasing process should help safeguard against any potential regional "explosions" of the virus reoccurring after initial mitigation efforts.
Ingraham also asked why a COVID-19 vaccine is necessary before going back to normal life, suggesting SARS and HIV/AIDS as two examples of viruses where society has not required a vaccine to continue functioning.
"HIV/AIDS is entirely different. We don't have a vaccine for HIV/AIDS but we have spectacularly effective treatment," Fauci responded. "People who invariably would have died years ago right now are leading essentially normal lives.
"SARS is a different story," he added. "SARS disappeared. ... We were in the process of going through the various phases [of a vaccine]. We showed it was safe, we showed it induced a good response and then SARS disappeared and we didn't need to develop a vaccine for SARS."
Fauci went on to say that while there is a minute possibility coronavirus disappears as SARS did, he warned that "degree of efficiency of [the] transmissibility" of COVID-19 is "unprecedented" and reason to be much more proactive.
"It's an extraordinarily efficient virus in transmitting from one person to another," he said. "Those kind of viruses don't just disappear."