The world could reach the point where we don't have to worry about Covid-19 within "the next year to a year and a half", according to America's top infectious diseases expert.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said fears around the virus could be over within the next year if vaccine developments continue to go well.
Speaking during a livestream hosted by Georgetown University, he said efforts to develop a vaccine are in a "pretty good place".
"No vaccine is going to be 100 per cent protective," he said. "What we hope is that – with the combination of people having already been exposed and a vaccine that's anywhere from 70-75 per cent protective – that there will be enough herd immunity that there will be a time when you and I don't have to worry about getting infected with this awful virus.
"We hope that that time will be reasonably soon … within the next year to year and a half."
A 30,000-person study will begin at the end of July to determine if the vaccine can prevent infection.
"If things work out the way we hope they do, I think by the end of this year and the beginning of calendar year 2021, we will have enough information to know whether the candidates that we're dealing with are safe and effective," Fauci said.
WARNING TO YOUNG PEOPLE
Fauci warned that the US "has a serious situation" on its hands, urging young people to not be "part of the problem".
"There is an understandable situation where a young person could say, 'You know, statistically the chances of my getting into trouble by getting infected are much smaller than an elderly person,'" he said.
"I say that with some trepidation, because I'm not blaming anyone, and I think people do this innocently. They don't mean to be part of the problem, but inadvertently they are part of the problem."
Yesterday Florida set a record with more than 15,000 new cases of Covid-19 reported overnight.
Speaking on Speaking on Podcast-19, Fauci said young people in particular "threw caution to the wind, and you see films of people very densely congregated at bars and in areas where they're not looking at social distancing or wearing masks".
"I think what we're seeing right now are the results of that, in four states that are accounting for 50 per cent of new infections."
So-called "pandemic parties" have also been raging across the state, according to local newspaper The Sun Sentinel.
The median age of those infected in the state has plummeted from 65 years old at the beginning of March to 39 last week, suggesting younger, healthier people are transmitting the virus.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez singled out young partygoers for accelerating the spread.
"We saw a rapid rise in young people … being positive to Covid-19 around mid-June," he told CBS News in June. "I think that that had a lot to do with probably socialising, young kids going to parties, maybe graduation parties at homes, because it's been pretty locked down here for some time."
ONE MILLION CASES IN FIVE DAYS
Global coronavirus cases have soared to over one million in just five days.
Between July 6 and July 10, the number of cases of Covid-19 increased by 1,046,200, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. This was up from 994,400 from July 5 to July 9.
There have now been more than 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 globally.
World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned there would be "no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future".
He told a media briefing in Geneva that there were no shortcuts out of this pandemic, and that we can't rely on a vaccine.
"We need to reach a sustainable situation where we do have adequate control of this virus without shutting down our lives entirely, or lurching from lockdown to lockdown," he said.
Just two countries accounted for half of all new cases added worldwide on Sunday, he added.
Tedros did not name the countries, but according to WHO data he was referring to the United States and Brazil.
The US, Brazil and India accounted for more than 112,000 new cases on Sunday.
The US currently has at least 3.4 million recorded cases and over 135,000 deaths according to John Hopkins University data. Brazil is almost at two million cases, and India almost at one million.
Without naming specific countries or governments, Tedros said "too many countries are headed in the wrong direction".
"If governments do not clearly communicate with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives; if populations do not follow the basic principles of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, there is only one way this is going to go. It's going to get worse and worse and worse," he said.
"But it does not have to be this way," he added. "It's never too late to bring the virus under control, even if there has been explosive transmission."