SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – In a virtual conversation with California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the general public could potentially begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations by April and estimated life could begin returning to normal in the early fall of 2021.

Newsom asked Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, whether or not the country was on track with predetermined plans for the vaccination process. As the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses per person, Fauci said the original proposal was 40,000 doses for 20,000 people by the end of December.

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Fauci said Tuesday that there have been approximately 11,000 doses administered with 2-3,000 people vaccinated, but the feeling heading into January is that the efforts will catch up if people do their part by getting vaccinated. Fauci estimated that herd immunity could be achieved once 70-85% of the population gets vaccinated.

“I believe that if we do the kind of vaccines through April, May, June, July, that by the time we get to the early fall, we will have enough good herd immunity to be able to really get back to some strong semblance of normality,” Fauci said. “Schools, theaters, sporting events, restaurants. I believe if we do it correctly, we will be there by the early fall.”

The vaccines are being administered in phases. The first phase allows healthcare professionals and long-term residents of healthcare facilities. The second phase will allow people 75 and older to get vaccinated, in addition to groups like police, firefighters and teachers. This will continue until around April, which Fauci said could then be “open season.”

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“Anybody who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated,” he said.

Earlier in their conversation, Newsom confirmed to Fauci that California has seen its first case of the new COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant strain, which originated in the United Kingdom and first was confirmed in the US in Colorado on Tuesday.

Newsom said the new variant strain was found in Southern California.

As of Wednesday, California has seen over 2.24 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Over 25,000 people have died from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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