Fauci mentioned the virus may very well be underneath management within the “latter half of 2021”.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, nominated by President-elect Joe Biden as Biden’s chief medical advisor for Covid-19, speaks on-screen after Biden announced that his team was tasked with dealing with Covid . 19 Pandemic at the Queen’s in Wilmington, Delaware on December 8, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

The United States could get the coronavirus pandemic under control by the “back half of 2021” if enough people are vaccinated against the disease in the spring, once doses are widespread, said White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Tuesday.

That would mean companies could likely welcome employees back to the office, open full-capacity restaurants indoors, and safely resume sporting events and theater performances if enough people were vaccinated against Covid-19, Fauci said at the CEO Council summit of the Wall Street Journal.

“I think we can get there around the second half of 2021 if we implement the vaccination program properly and aggressively,” Fauci said.

The infectious disease expert, who will remain in a similar position next year as advisor to President-elect Joe Biden on Covid, said it was likely that enough vaccine doses should be available for all Americans by late March and early April.

The challenge, however, will be to convince the “overwhelming majority” of the people in the US to get vaccinated, Fauci said. To maintain a “roof of herd immunity” in the nation, approximately 75% or more of the population must be vaccinated against the virus, he said.

Until then, people must continue to adhere to public health guidelines like wearing masks and social distancing, but the “rigor” of these measures will decrease as more people get vaccinated and the US approaches full protection.

There will likely be a “small core” of people who won’t take the vaccine, “no matter what you tell them,” Fauci said. While he said he would not give up trying to convince them to vaccinate, the US should focus on convincing people to take the vaccine who are hesitant “because of a misunderstanding of the facts and data”.

Fauci’s comments come just days before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could potentially grant Pfizer’s emergency Covid-19 vaccine approval. A group of outside medical experts known as the Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products will meet on Thursday to review the company’s vaccine, which it developed with German drug maker BioNTech.

The UK became the first country to start vaccinating people with Pfizer’s vaccine outside of clinical trials on Tuesday, after approving the drug last week.

On Tuesday, the FDA announced that data from Pfizer’s vaccine studies showed that the drug was highly effective and did not raise specific safety concerns. The vaccine, which requires two doses, was found to be 94.8% effective seven days after the second vaccination, the agency said.

– CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt and Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.

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