This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS – Dr. Anthony Fauci told medical students and scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine today that the COVID-19 pandemic will get worse before it gets better but stressed the rollout of vaccines is a sign of better days to come.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says there will likely be a surge in coronavirus cases because of holiday gatherings.

“We expect it to get a bit worse as we get into the middle and end weeks of January. The numbers are really stunning when you look at them,” Fauci said.

The nation has seen 360,000 COVID deaths and record hospitalizations. But he says the vaccine rollout is a gateway to the end of the outbreak.

“Vaccines that are not just any vaccine but a vaccine that is 94 to 95 percent efficacious, with a very good safety record,” he said.

Fauci says fighting the spread of the virus has been more difficult because of mixed messages from political leaders.

“Whether wearing or not wearing of a mask would be a statement of where you stand politically…I would say besides being so unacceptable, that it is so destructive of the trust that is needed when you want to mobilize a country,” he said.

Fauci was asked when public health restrictions may be eased.

“I think as we get into April, if we get a hundred million people vaccinated in a hundred days the way President-Elect Biden wants to do, I think you’ll start to see some impact on the dynamics of the outbreak which maybe would allow us to sort of pull back a little bit,” he said.

Fauci says when 75 to 80 percent of the population is vaccinated, we may get back to some degree of normality.