Fauci called the suffering and death of recent months “stunning,” with January and December the worst months since the start. “The number of cases were between 300,000 and 400,000 per day,” he said. “The number of deaths were between 3,000 and 4,000 per day.”

While “things are going in the right direction … we’re also going to be challenged by the appearance of variants or mutants that have appeared, some of which have a functional influence on how we’re gonna respond to them,” he said. “Fortunately, others are well covered by the vaccine, but not all of them.”

“You don’t want people to become complacent. We still have a long way to go … We still might have a stumbling block coming with the appearance of variants that would dominate the picture.”