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Officials: U.S. 'turning the corner' on pandemic if vaccinations continue

Empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are

Empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination center in Las Vegas. Credit: AP/John Locher

The United States is "turning the corner" in preventing coronavirus transmission and is unlikely to see significant outbreaks in the fall and winter, so long as enough Americans are vaccinated, White House officials said Sunday.

The Biden administration has set a goal of having 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4. Meeting the early summer metric would help stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks like those last fall and winter, before the vaccines were widely administered, officials said.

"We are turning the corner," White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeffrey Zients said on CNN's "State of the Union." Fifty-eight percent of adult Americans have received at least one vaccine shot, Zients said, and more than 110 million Americans are fully vaccinated.

Going forward, he said, there will be "easier access to the vaccine," and the United States has "enough supply for all adult Americans to get vaccinated."

Zients downplayed concerns about Americans hesitant to get the vaccine.

"We have gotten to 58% faster than we expected," he told host Jake Tapper. "So, we're entering a new phase, where access is really important and building confidence is really important. So, that's what we're focused on."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC's "This Week" that the virus won't have "any place to go" if enough Americans are vaccinated.

"We've got to make sure that we get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated," Fauci said.

When that happens, he said: "There aren't a lot of vulnerable people around. And when there are not a lot of vulnerable people around, you're not going to see a surge."

"That being the case," Fauci continued, "I think we can approach what we used to remember as normal before all of the tragedy happened."

Fauci, also chief medical adviser to the president, called the vaccines a "game changer," during a separate interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."

There may still be some outbreaks here and there, Fauci said.

"You may see blips," he said, "but if we handle them well, it is unlikely that you'll see the kind of surge that we saw in the late fall and the early winter."

He added: "The larger proportion of the population that's vaccinated, the less likelihood that in a season like the coming fall or winter you're going to see a significant surge. There's no doubt about that."

Fauci also called on a global effort to aid India, which is struggling with record coronavirus cases and thousands of deaths per day.

"The end game of this all is to get people vaccinated," he said on ABC's "This Week." "Other countries need to chip in to be able to get supplies, for the Indians to make their own vaccines, or to get vaccines donated."

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