A National Institute of Health official warned Sunday the fast-moving spread of a new coronavirus is on the “verge” of a pandemic unless containment isn’t successful.
In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, said currently 24 countries have over 500 cases of COVID-19.
“Technically speaking, the WHO wouldn't be calling this a global pandemic, but it certainly is on the verge of that happening reasonably soon unless containment is more successful than it is right now,” he said.
According to Fauci, it would be helpful for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be in China.
“The reason is because first of all, our CDC are the best epidemiologists in the world,” he said. “They can be helpful to the Chinese as well as get information firsthand, eyes, ears and boots on the ground. So it really is to be helpful as part of the WHO group.”
Fauci says it’s not “unreasonable” to say the virus will fade when warmer weather begins — but that officials still don’t know if that’ll be the case with the new COVID-19.
“This virus, we don't know,” he said. “But it is not unreasonable to say that influenza, for example, which peaks in the winter, you would certainly expect it by March, April and May to taper down, as well as typical common cold coronaviruses.”
“However, we do not know what this particular virus is going to do so,” he added. “So we would think it would be a stretch to assume that it's going to disappear with the warm weather. We don't know that. It's completely unknown.”
The official also said getting a vaccine for the new virus in a year would be a “record,” and that he’s optimistic manufacturers will sign on to what would be an expensive operation.
“That one year timeline would be the world's indoor record of ever getting a vaccine out, at least to be able to early deploy. You can't do any better than that. If you go any faster, you'll be cutting dangerous corners,” he said.
“Once you get a vaccine that, you know works, the difficulty is having companies take that risk of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to scale up to make it available,” he said, adding: “I think we're going to get them because I'm seeing interest on the part of pharmaceutical companies that we did not see with SARS and other outbreaks.”
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