Transcript for 'There is no running away from the numbers': Fauci on COVID-19 surge
Joining me now is the director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Good morning, Dr. Fauci. I want to start by saying this, we report the numbers of deaths and cases every day. I want to pause and ask you your reaction to 350,000 deaths we've now reached. Did you ever expect it to be that high? No, Martha, I did not. You know, that's what happens when you're in a situation where you have surges related to so many factors. Incont adhering to the public health measures. The winter months coming in right now with the cold allowing people or essentially forcing people to do most things indoors as opposed to outdoorshe traveling associated with the holiday season is all of the ingredients that unfortunately make for a situation that's really terrible. To have 30cases in a given day and between 2,000 and 3,000 deaths per day is just terrible. It is. There's no running away from the numbers, Martha. It's something we've got to grasp and get our arms around and turn that inflection down by very intensive adherence to public health measures, uniformly throughout the country with no exceptions. Dr. Fauci, the president tweeted the number of deaths is exaggerated, citing the CDC's what he called ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries. Your response to that? The deaths are real deaths. All you need to do is go into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with. They are under very stressed situations. In many areas of the country hospital beds are stretched. People are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted right now. That's real. That's not fake. That's real. Dr. Fauci, we saw the U.S. Is vaccinating only about 200,000 people a day with many STA using just a small percentage of the vaccines they've received. What's the biggest cause of this delay? Well, I think it's just trying to get a massive vaccine program started and getting off on the right foot. There have been a couple glitches. That's understandable. The important thing, Martha, is to see what's happening in the next week, to week and a half because the original projection that general Perna, who is in charge of the actual shipping and distribution, there's allocation, shipping and distribution and then putting it into people's arms. They were promising they would have about 20 million doses that were allocated, shipped and distributed. They felt of that by the end of December. In the first couple of days in Y they're catching up with that. What we need to catch up with now is getting into people's arms because there's now about 4 million. We wanted to get to 20 million. Some little glimmer of hope is that in the last 72 hours they've gotten 1.5 million doses into people's arms which is an average of about 500,000 a day, which is much better than the beginning when it was much, much less than that. We're not where we want to be. No doubt about that, but I think we can get there if we really accelerate, get some momentum going and see what happens as we get into the first couple weeks of January. Dr. Fauci, the president puts responsibility on the states, but unite senator Mitt Romney wrote this week it was unrealistic to think that health care workers already overbu or CVS or call greens could handle that vaccination program writing the plans have not been developed at the federal level and sent to the states as models. It's as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable. Is that inexcusable? What we need to do, Martha, is get interaction between the federal government and the states. To say the federal government should do it, that will never happen. To just leave the states on their own without any help, instruction or resources is going to be tough. You have to have a combination of both. You have to have a real interaction, partnership between the federal government and states. That's what we're trying to do. Hopefully that will materialize as we get into the beginning of this year. You're absolutely right, if you try and do it one way or the other it's not going to work. It's got to be pulling together federal and state. We'll have a new president in a few weeks. What difference do you think the public will see when Joe Biden is president? Well, I mean, we've already heard the President-Elect talking about the kinds of things he wants to see done. That's hopefully uniform throughout the country. What the President-Elect said about masks, everybody wear a mask. No exception. Everybody for the first 100 days, probably well beyond that, but at least for the first 100 days. The goal of vaccinating 100 million people in the first 100 days is a realistic goal. Can do 1 million people per day. You know, we've done massive vaccination programs, Martha, in our history. There's no reason why we can't do it now. The classical one that people should go back and look at -- Google it. It's really interesting. In 1947 when there was a case of small pox of an American who was vacationing in Mexico, came back to New York City and infected a group of people -- there were a total of 12 hospitalizations and two deaths. New York City in March and April of 1947 vaccinat,350,000 people, 5 million they did in two weeks. I was a 6-year-old boy who was one of those who got vaccinated. If New York City can do 5 million in two weeks, the united States can do a million a day. We can do it. We hope that happens, Dr. Fauci. We heard about this new strain, this new variant. How concerned are you about that? Would the vaccine protect against that? Let me tell you what we know about that, Martha. We'll get more information because we'll be studying it ourselves. That mutant is already here in the United States. It has been well reported. The Brits have a lot of experience with it. They tell us it's a mutant that seems to spread more easily. It's more contagious going from one person to another. What they tell is that it is not more virulent. In other words it doesn't make people more ill or cause more death. It doesn't appear to evade or elude the protection you get from the antibodies produced by the vaccines theatre currently using. That's what they're telling us. They know what they're doing. I believe them. We'll look at it ourselves. We have a lot of people carefully looking at each of those. Dr. Fauci, we have just a couple minutes here. You have predicted things could be back to normal by next fall. Does that count on herd immunity from 75% to 80% of the population before things are back to normal? You heard reports about health care workers not taking the vaccine. Yeah. It's totally going to depend on the uptake of vaccines. If we get 70% to 85% of the population vaccinated and we start -- right now we're getting the people in the priority groups. By the time we get to the end of March, beginning of April, I would have hoped we took care of all the priority and have open season on vaccines. Namely anybody who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine. If from April, may, June, July and August, we do the vaccine implementation I'm talking about, at least 1 million people a day and maybe more, by the time we end the summer and get to the fall we will have achieved the level of herd immunity that will get us back to some form of normality and maybe quite normal. We all hope for that in the new year. Thanks for joining us, Dr. Fauci. Good to be with you, Martha. Thank you for having me.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.