MISSOULA — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and adviser to President Joe Biden, spoke at the University of Montana on Wednesday.
“I don't think anyone could have imagined that things would have been this bad for over a year,” Dr. Fauci said referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We're making a lot of progress now, but we have been through a very, very extraordinary and historic experience that isn't over yet,” he continued.
Dr. Fauci spoke directly to a Montana audience on Wednesday, headlining the annual Mansfield Lecture Series.
Montanans asked questions about the virus, like one Missoula boy who is still suffering from symptoms after contracting covid months ago.
"My heart races, and I can't read or write. No other doctor can help me, can you help me?"
Dr. Fauci told the boy some people have spontaneously recovered from lasting symptoms.
"Let's hope that as we move forward, in the coming months, that those things that are bothering you so much, will self-correct,” Dr.. Fauci said.
“What is your response to our tribal community members who ask us, how do you expect us to trust a vaccine being sent by the federal government?" Asked Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Chairwoman Shelly Fyant asked.
"You have to respect the people who have that skepticism,” Dr. Fauci responded.
He says to do that, while still presenting the scientific facts, “it has been shown to be highly efficacious, and really quite safe."
Dr. Fauci added that the more people that get vaccinated, the sooner we can reach herd immunity. He also commented on people who are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
"If we can convince them to get vaccinated -- and get to that 70 to 85% of the population vaccinated -- I believe that by next fall, middle to end of next fall, that we can begin to approach a significant degree of normality,” Dr. Fauci said.
Dr. Fauci also noted that other factors – including COVID-19 variants and vaccine hesitancy -- could slow the time to reach that herd immunity.