"We can do both, we can keep the country open and we can abide by the public health measures," Fauci told MSNBC. "That together with a vaccine, I believe in 2021 we will see this behind us. ... It’s not going to happen in the first few months. If we do it correctly, hopefully, as we get into the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall of 2021, we can start to approach some degree of normality."
Fauci's comments come as Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams says lack of state and local funds may be one reason why millions of COVID-19 vaccines distributed to states across the country have yet to be given to patients.
Just under 3 million people have received the vaccine, despite the Trump administration promising to administer 20 million by the end of December.
"Whenever you have a very large operation, such as trying to vaccinate an entire country with a new vaccine, there always will be bumps in the road," Fauci said. "We hope ... as we get into the first week or so of January, we'll catch up quickly with that 20-million-dose-in-the-arms projection that we had. And as we get into the middle of January, February, March, we would be on the target."
So far, two vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, have received emergency approval from the FDA.
The federal government has caught flak for confusion over the vaccine's rollout, with President-elect Joe Biden slamming President Trump's efforts at distributing vaccinations in a timely manner as "falling behind, far behind."
Biden said he has directed his team "to prepare a much more aggressive effort with more federal involvement and leadership to get things back on track" once he assumes office on Jan. 20.
"We'll find ways to boost the pace of vaccinations," he said, reiterating a goal of "ensuring that 100 million shots have been administered by the end of the first 100 days."
Fox News' Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.