Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top White House medical adviser and the director of the National Institutes for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Monday night that he believes the U.S. could have "some return to normalcy" from the pandemic by the spring of 2022.
Fauci's statement contradicted remarks he gave during an appearance on NPR earlier on Monday when he said that he thought the U.S. could have "some good control over the pandemic" by the fall of 2022.
"When I listened to the tape, I meant to say the spring of 2022, so I did misspeak," Fauci told CNN host Anderson Cooper on Monday.
When asked what "control" over the pandemic looked like, Fauci said it was imperative to get more people vaccinated.
"(If we get the) the people who are unvaccinated now, that 90 million people, get them vaccinated, I think we can get a degree of overall blanket protection of the community," Fauci said.
Earlier in the day, during his appearance on NPR, Fauci noted that those who remain unvaccinated risk delaying the U.S.'s return to normalcy, noting that the continued spread of the virus could lead to more mutant strains like the delta variant.
"You can't have 90 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not vaccinated and expect that you can make a good prediction about where we're going to be," Fauci said. "When you have people unvaccinated to the extent that they are unvaccinated, you have the possibility of the virus continuing to circulate, mutating, forming more variants and getting us back into another situation similar to or worse than delta."
Fauci added that he expects the winter months to be "complicated" as seasonal viruses like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus may rise to prominence.
He also encouraged those who have already contracted the virus to seek out a vaccine, noting that vaccination provides more protection from another infection than just antibodies alone.
"The degree of protection that you can induce in someone that has been infected, who has then recovered and then vaccinated is an enormous increase in the degree of protection," Fauci told CNN.
Given the need for more vaccinations, the risks posed by seasonal illnesses in the winter months, Fauci said it could be another seven or eight months until things are completely back to normal.
"As we get into spring, we can start getting back to a degree of normality, mainly resuming the things that we were hoping to do, restaurants, theaters, that sort of thing," Fauci told CNN.