Life should be back to normal, more or less, by Christmas, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted Thursday. In an interview with MSNBC, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned that there were many variables at play and that returning to some kind of normalcy “is not a mathematical formula … it is a matter of estimates.” But he agreed with President Joe Biden‘s estimate that things will start to get back to normal “by the end of the year, around Christmas.”
However, it may not be exactly like life before a pandemic. Fauci said theaters and restaurants are likely still limited in capacity and “you may still have to wear masks” in public. “But these are all estimates and a lot of things can happen to change that,” for better or worse, he said. One concern is that new variants of COVID-19 could cause infections to spike again, which could interfere with that timeline. Fauci also said that once vaccinated, people will still need to separate low-risk contact from higher-risk public activities. Family dinners and cuddles with friends who have been vaccinated should be fine, he said, but some public outings could still be limited, depending on how much of the general population gets vaccinated. As of Thursday night, the United States had recorded 27.9 million coronavirus cases and more than 493,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.