New York Daily News: By Dave Goldiner – It’s not over just yet.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. won’t emerge from the COVID pandemic until next spring at the earliest.

The world-renowned infectious disease expert predicted the coming months will remain very difficult, with high caseloads and deaths especially in places with low vaccination rates.

“If we can get through this winter … I hope we can get some good control in the spring of 2022,” Fauci told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday night.

Fauci said it will be impossible to get a grip on the pandemic until underwhelming vaccination rates dramatically improve.

“That would mean you have the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated,” he said. “Then we can get an overall blanket protection of the community.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases – ERIN SCOTT/AP

With just over half of Americans fully vaccinated and close to 100 million eligible people so far refusing to get the lifesaving shots, Fauci essentially predicted it will be impossible to return to a normal life anytime soon.

“We hope we’ll be there … but there’s no guarantee,” he said. “Because it’s up to us.”

Even more worrisome, Fauci said the U.S. and the world are racing to get the virus under control before COVID potentially mutates into new and even more virulent strains.

He reminded Americans that things looked much more promising until we were hit with the “sucker punch” of the ultra-contagious delta variant, which effectively dashed hopes of an earlier recovery this summer.

“There’s a big caveat: this is a very wily virus,” he said. “If we don’t do what we are supposed to do and get people vaccinated … this thing could linger on, leading to the development of another variant.”

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy Tuesday echoed Fauci’s remarks and backed President Biden’s call for employers to mandate vaccinations.

He called the rapid full approval of the Pfizer vaccination a glimmer of hope as the nation seeks to claw its way out of the current COVID surge engineered by the delta variant.

Dave Goldiner is a political reporter at the New York Daily News. A 30-year newsroom veteran, he believes he is the only reporter to cover both the September 11 terror attacks and the death and funeral of South African freedom icon Nelson Mandela on the ground.