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Fauci says COVID-19 restrictions could be lifted before US reaches herd immunity

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Evan Vucci/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top infectious disease expert says the U.S. could see significant steps toward a return to the pre-pandemic normal, even before the country reaches coronavirus herd immunity.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says best estimates when enough people are immune to end the outbreak range between 70-85% of the population ― a figure expected to be attained by late summer or early fall.

He says as the pace of vaccination ramps up and the most vulnerable to the virus are protected, some government restrictions could be lifted.

Said Fauci: “You don’t have to wait until you get full herd immunity to get a really profound effect on what you can do.”

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CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cautioned only about 10% of the population is fully vaccinated, but her agency anticipated loosening federal guidelines as more people receive shots.