With more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures on and off across the country, it’s easy to feel discouraged and like we will never see the end of this stressful time. However, Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and the nation’s foremost expert on COVID-19, said on Late Night With Seth Meyers that there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel” thanks to the three approved vaccines in the US and more on the way.

While Dr. Fauci said that there’s no guarantee things will go back to exactly how they were before the pandemic, we can expect “a degree of normality as we get into the late summer and early fall.” However, he reiterated that cases have plateaued at about 50,000 new COVID cases a day so we can’t give up our public health efforts just yet, and that opening up businesses and states too soon could backfire.

And more troubling are the new coronavirus mutations that are spreading, namely the UK variant B.1.1.7 and variants found in South Africa and Brazil. While Dr. Fauci said the approved vaccines seem to “protect pretty well against” the UK variant, there is still concern that the other variants could evade antibodies created by the vaccine, which might require an additional booster shot in the fall. Still, he added that it’s not enough to diminish the progress we are making.

Perhaps most importantly, he reminded everyone that hope is on the horizon. “We’ve just gotta hang in there a bit longer, this is going to end, it’s not going to be this way forever,” Dr. Fauci assured. “If we pull back prematurely, we are going to be in trouble.” Watch his full interview above.

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