President Joe Biden indicated that Americans may need to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus for the remainder of 2021.
Speaking during a visit to the National Institutes of Health complex on Thursday, Biden also spoke about the U.S. vaccine supply and his goals for the rollout, and suggested that mask-wearing will likely be a reality for the next year, Fox News reports.
Even though he was standing 10 feet away from Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, the president told reporters he would continue to wear his mask, “you know that wearing this mask through the next year here can save lives, a significant number of lives.”
Health officials have emphasized that even with the vaccines, many of the current safety protocols will have to remain in force until the U.S. has a clear herd immunity against Covid-19.
There is currently no clear timeline as to when herd immunity can be achieved by. Sharon Peacock, the director of the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium, said that there are growing concerns that virus mutations will slow the process.
“Once we get on top of (the virus) or it mutates itself out of being virulent—causing disease—then we can stop worrying about it. But I think, looking in the future, we’re going to be doing this for years. We’re still going to be doing this 10 years down the line in my view,” she said, according to Reuters.
Dr Fauci, however, said he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ that herd immunity could come by fall if the general public starts getting vaccines by ‘April, May, June,’ but admitted he’s concerned that variants could stretch that timeline.