In this photo taken on January 25, 2020, medical staff wearing protective clothing tend to a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – The coronavirus that originated in China is not a pandemic yet, but it may become one, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
“Well, a pandemic is when you have multiple countries throughout the world that have what’s called sustained transmission from person to person to person, multiple generations,” Fauci told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“Right now, there are 24 countries in which there were over 500 cases (of person-to-person transmission). Several of them are starting to get to the second and third transmission. So, technically speaking, the WHO (World Health Organization) 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.”
Fauci said it’s still too soon to say if the virus will wane in warmer weather as the common cold and influenza do.
“We do not know what this particular virus is going to do. So, I 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.”
Fauci said researchers are working on a vaccine, but a one-year timeline is very ambitious:
“You can’t do any better than that,” Fauci said. “If you go any faster, you’ll be cutting dangerous corners.”
Fauci said once an effective vaccine is developed, “the difficulty is having companies take that risk of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to scale up to make it available.”
Fauci said he doesn’t think that will be a problem with a coronavirus vaccine: “I’m seeing interest on the part of pharmaceutical companies that we did not see with SARS and other outbreaks,” he said.
In other coronavirus news, two planeloads of Americans arrived back in the United States overnight, evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan. Those Americans were thought to be healthy, but as a precaution, they will spend another two weeks in quarantine at U.S. military bases.
Americans on the cruise ship who were diagnosed with coronavirus — around 44 at last count — were sent to hospitals in Japan, Fauci said. “People who have symptoms will not be able to get on the evacuation plane,” he said.
Fauci also said people who show symptoms while on the plane — 14, according to press reports — will be “segregated” in the passenger cabin.
According to NIH: “More cases of coronavirus “are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States.”