Fauci calls coronavirus his 'worst nightmare' as cases spike

Dr. Anthony Fauci talks to "GMA" about concerns over the virus spreading at protests and whether states and cities are reopening too fast.
9:00 | 06/10/20

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Transcript for Fauci calls coronavirus his 'worst nightmare' as cases spike
Cases as we know turning globally fast approaching 2 million here in the U.S. With the death toll now topping 112,000. Infections are still on the rise in at least 21 states and hospitally sathss increasing in eight states. Now there's growing concern about nationwide protests as members of the D.C. National Guard have tested positive for covid after last week's demonstrations. Dr. Anthony Fauci calling the virus his worst nightmare and joins us on "Gma." We always appreciate you taking time to talk to our audience. You just heard me talk about how members of the D.C. National Guard testing positive. Sir, how concerned are you about it spreading due to the protests even though we see many at the protests wearing masks. Yes, the most important thing, unfortunately, the report of the national guardsmen being infected is certainly disturbing but is not surprising. The issue of physical separation is important. Masks can help, but it's masks plus physical separation and when you get congregations like we saw with the demonstrations as we have said myself and other health officials, that's taking a risk and unfortunately, what we're seeing now is just an example of the kinds of things we were concerned about. So I wouldn't be surprised that members of the congregation that were there demonstrating could also be infected and many of them would then go back to where they were because not everyone was demonstrating in the city where they live. They've come from the outside so it's the kind of things we were concerned about and unfortunately we're seeing it come true right now. Yes, but people, they are very passionate about what they are fighting for and evident it's worth the possible risk. We see that states are opening. New York City opening this week as well. What is the concerns there as we are seeing, you know, it rise a little bit like that. What is most important for people, do you feel for people, the public to know this morning, Dr. Fauci? Well, what they need to know is that when you open, that doesn't mean that everything is okay and you just can just do whatever you want. You still have to practice a degree of caution and carefully go through the process of trying to normalize. That means you still should be wearing a mask. You still should be trying as best as possible to have that physical distancing. You still need to wash your hands as often as you possibly can. And avoid congregation in large numbers. These things, even though you're trying appropriately because we know everyone wants to approach normality and get things back to normal including the economy, but that doesn't mean that all bets are off. And that's the reason why we say be careful and do it prudently. And the vaccine, people want to know about the vaccine and you have said that you're very confident that -- we know it's being tested on people right now but you're confident there will be not just one but more than what leads you to be so optimistic about being -- having more than one vaccine available and when do you think it'll be available to the public? Okay, so let me just clarify one thing. When you're developing vaccines, there's never a guarantee that you're going to have a safe and effective vaccine. What I'm confident about is how well the process is proceeding in the development of more than one candidate that in early testing both in the animals and phase one testing in humans looks quite promising. It makes me cautiously optimistic as we get into the early summer. We're going to go into advanced clinical trials in at least one and close to maybe three or more candidates hopefully by the time we get to mid and late fall if the process goes well. We will have enough information to be able to make a decision whether the vaccine is safe and which means if we are in good shape and that happens, we could have a vaccine either by the end of this calendar year or in the first few months of 2021. So that's the thing that makes me feel confident that the process is really on track and that's good news, again, in the context of never being able to guarantee success, things are clearly going in the right direction. That's very promising, very promising indeed and once there is a vaccine, how often do you think we would need it? Would it be like getting the flu shot every year? We don't know that right now. We'll take it one step at a time. The first thing we want to do determine if it's safe and if it protects. How long that protection lasts, we're going to have to obviously observe that and that's the reason why when you make a vaccine it isn't the end of the game. You have to keep following and see how long the duration of the protection is. We hope it's substantial. But if it isn't you could always give a boost. Right now step one let's just prove that it's safe and effective and go on from there. Yes, that's an important step one, I can understand that also, let's talk about the range of symptoms and the severity, the range and severity and W.H.O. Said something recently that suggested asymptomatic spread is rare and walked it back a little bit. Can you clarify that for us? Okay, so that's two questions. Let me take the first one. Clearly this is a very unusual because as you pointed out correctly, the range of manifestations is extraordinary. You can have people who are infected and have no symptoms. You could have people who are infected and have mild Sims that they barely notice. Others have more singalong veer symptoms. They become even more severe requiring them to be home a couple weeks. Some require hospitalization and some require intensive care and as we know unfortunately over 110,000 have already died in this country so the range is extraordinary. To your question, about asymptomatic transmission, what happened the other day is that a member of the W.H.O. Was saying that transmission from an asymptomatic person to an uninfected person was very rare. They walked that back because there's no evidence to indicate that's the case. And, in fact, the evidence that we have given the percentage of people which is about 25%, 45% of the totality of infected people likely are without symptoms. And we know from epidemiological studies they can transmit to someone who is uninfected even when they're without symptoms so to make a statement to say that's a rare event was not correct and that's the reason why the W.H.O. Walked that back. And, Dr. Fauci, hearing all this, how does that -- people are wondering about schools re-opening in the fall. So what kind of impact will that have on the possibility of that happening? Well, you know, you've got to be careful because people talk about schools opening in the broad sense. We have a very large country and the dynamics of infection really differ from a region, state, city, town and even county so the school opening would really have to be dictated by the degree and the dynamics of infection in a particular community. There are going to be some communities in which the infection rate and dynamic is extremely low so schools can open with little risk. There may be other areas depending upon the activity of the virus where you might want to modify the school situation and there are a number of creative ways to do that that the authorities have figured out. You could stagger the classes and keep people separated. It really depends upon the status of the location in which you act. You don't want to make a uni-dimensional decision about the entire country. You have to look about where you are and what the dynamics of the infection are. Not one size fits all. Dr. Anthony Fauci, we are so grateful, so grateful for your work and your willingness to continue to come on our program and to share. We really do. Take care. Hope you and your family are doing well. My pleasure for being with you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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