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Fauci says coronavirus his 'worst nightmare' and far from over

The Hill logo The Hill 6/9/2020 Nathaniel Weixel
Anthony S. Fauci wearing a suit and tie: Fauci says coronavirus his 'worst nightmare' and far from over © Bonnie Cash Fauci says coronavirus his 'worst nightmare' and far from over

The country's top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, on Tuesday said the novel coronavirus is his "worst nightmare" and warned that it is far from over.

During a previously taped interview at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization's annual conference, Fauci said the virus hit all four criteria for a nightmare scenario - it was new, respiratory born, easily transmissible and has a significant degree of illness or mortality.

Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the virus surprised him with "how rapidly it just took over the planet."

"This took about a month to go around the world," Fauci said. "When is it going to end? We're still at the beginning of it."

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Fauci said other outbreaks like SARS, HIV and Ebola "had a degree of containment and finiteness to them from the very beginning," he said.

SARS in particular was not nearly as contagious, and "burned itself out by pure public health measures," Fauci said.

Fauci spent most of his career studying HIV, and the disease it caused was "really simple compared to what's going on with Covid-19."

"We're at almost the beginning of understanding" the disease, especially the long-term effects, he said.

Speaking directly to industry executives, Fauci applauded the public-private collaboration, and said he was confident there will be "more than one winner in the vaccine field, because we will need vaccines for the entire world-billions and billions of doses."

While concerns have been raised about the pricing of any potential vaccine or therapeutic, Fauci said the government won't be able to force companies to set a specific price.

"When you're dealing with something that has to have some kind of economic return you have to have some degree of profit," Fauci said, as long as the drug is accessible.

"I've never seen a successful attempt at doing [price] controls," Fauci said.

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