Frank fireside chat with Dr. Fauci and Berkeley students

In a fireside chat on Thursday sponsored by the Berkeley Forum student group and the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talked about the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've never seen a disease with such a range of clinical manifestations, from 40-50% who get no symptoms at all," Fauci said. "Our baseline of infection is about 40,000 per day which is unacceptably high. So, we have to get this down or we are going to have a very tough winter.

Fauci also said that a vaccine probably wouldn't be widely available until spring or fall of next year.

Event organizers with the Berkeley Forum, a non-partisan student group, say the event drew an unusually big crowd.

"For this event we streamed through two platforms. First through Facebook which we had approximately 2,000 views, and then through YouTube where we had approximately 1,500 views," said Christie Maly, a second-year economics major who served as the event manager.

For some, there is heightened concern and interest as the numbers of U.S. cases and deaths continue to rise.

"We want people, even if they disagree with these ideas, we just want them to have a chance to interact with them and understand them on a deeper level," said Abhay Aggarwal, a UC Berkeley junior, who moderated the talk.

One question noted the public health side of the pandemic has become increasingly political and asked for Dr. Fauci's views.

"We are driven by the science and science knows no political party and science in its purest sense doesn't know any ideology. It just knows the facts," Dr. Fauci replied.

Dr. Fauci listed facts that he says can prevent coronavirus transmission such as wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, doing activities outdoors, and washing hands, but some of those have been disputed by President Trump and White House advisors.

On Thursday, the New England Journal of Medicine published an unprecedented editorial signed by all its editors is highly critical of the Trump administration.

It said "truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent."

"The New England Journal of Medicine tried to stay focused on policy and they gave a devastating critique of what the Trump administration has done, but they didn't go so far as to say vote for Joe Biden," said Henry Brady, dean of the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. "Donald Trump has broken so many norms that many professional organizations, journals and so forth are breaking norms that they held for a long time as well.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana