National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Sunday that Americans may still need to wear masks in 2022 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“You and the president have suggested that we’ll approach normality towards the end of the year. What does normal mean? Do you think Americans will still be wearing masks, for example, in 2022?” host Dana Bash asked.

“You know, I think that’s possible that’s the case,” he said in response. “It depends on what you mean by normality”

“Right,” Bash pressed. “That’s why I want you to define it.”

“It’s important because if normality means exactly the way things were before we had this happen to us, I mean, I can’t predict,” Fauci said. “I mean, obviously, I think we’ll have a significant degree of normality beyond what the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year as we get into the fall and the winter by the end of the year, I agree with the president completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality. It may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019 but much, much better than what we’re doing right now.”

“Why do you think Americans might have to wear masks into 2022?” Bash asked.

“You know, because it depends on the level of dynamics of virus that’s in the community, and that’s really important because that gets back to something, again, you said, if you see the level coming down really, really very low, I want it to keep going down to a baseline that’s so low there is virtually no threat,” Fauci said. “It will never be zero, but a minimal, minimal, minimal threat you will be exposed to someone who is infected. So if you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe you’re going to be able to say, you know, for the most part, we don’t necessarily have to wear masks but if we have a level of virus that is at that level that it was months and months ago like 20 thousand per day is a heck of a lot better than it been.”

“That’s still a very high level of virus in the community,” he added. “I want to see it go way down. When it goes way down, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable saying we need to pull back on the masks. We don’t need to have masks.”