Dr. Fauci warns it will be late summer 2021 before big crowds can return to sporting events – even if vaccinations for the general public start in April
- Dr. Anthony Fauci says sports fans should not expect to return to games en masse until late 2021 due to the challenges of rolling out COVID-19 vaccines
- Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has consistently warned about the dangers of large crowds at sporting events
- Even if the general public begins seeing the vaccine in April or May, Fauci says, it still may not be safe to attend games until late summer of 2021
- Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna Inc. have COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of development, with some near approval
- Fauci said he believes ‘between 75% and 85%’ of the US population would need vaccinations before large, unrestricted crowds could return to sporting events
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says sports fans should not expect to return to games en masse until the final months of 2021 due to the challenges of rolling out COVID-19 vaccines.
Fauci, who has consistently cautioned against spectators attending games, told Yahoo! Sports on Monday that unrestricted crowds at sporting events will be among ‘the last things’ Americans will see as the country recovers from the pandemic.
‘We’re gonna be vaccinating the highest-priority people [from] the end of December through January, February, March,’ Fauci said. ‘By the time you get to the general public, the people who’ll be going to the basketball games, who don’t have any underlying conditions, that’s gonna be starting the end of April, May, June.
‘So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable [with full sports stadiums] – if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don’t think we’re going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci , the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says sports fans should not expect to return to games en masse until the final months of 2021 due to the challenges of rolling out COVID-19 vaccines
Cardboard fans became a common site around sports stadiums in 2020 amid the pandemic
Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna Inc. have COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of development. In fact, Pfizer and BioNTech have requested permission from the US to begin vaccinations in the US this month.
But according to Fauci, that does not necessarily signal a return to normal life.
‘Having an efficacious vaccine in and of itself doesn’t get us out of this difficult situation we’re in,’ Fauci said. ‘But an efficacious vaccine that’s widely utilized could get us to a point where we’re really approaching normality.’
Another problem could be the public’s willingness to be vaccinated.
‘We could get there by the end of the summer, and as we get into the fall of next year,’ Fauci continued. ‘[But] if 50 percent of the people say, “You know, I don’t want to get vaccinated,” then it’s gonna take considerably longer than that.’
Fauci said he believes ‘between 75 and 85 percent’ of the US population would need to be vaccinated before large crowds could return to sporting events without restriction.
The NBA and NHL both completed their 2019-20 campaigns inside league-operated bubbles, which were largely successful in protecting players and staff from coronavirus. The NBA, which is preparing to start its 2020-21 season on December 22, still plans on allowing small, socially distanced crowds, depending on the guidelines from local health officials in each respective market.
Major League Baseball, however, struggled to complete its shortened season without a league bubble as 40 games were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks and contact tracing.
MLB did welcome small groups of fans during the postseason, which is what many NFL teams are currently doing. Unfortunately for that league, 18 games have been postponed due to COVID-19 and contact tracing, while many top college football teams have been forced to cancel games altogether.