As we’re now more than a year into the monotonous gloom of the pandemic era, a question that’s tossed around with varying levels of understanding is “When can we hurl ourselves back into a full-blown normal life?”

During an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci—President Biden’s chief medical advisor—was asked to reveal how he would currently respond to such a question as the vaccine rollout continues across the country.

“Well, you know, you really can’t give a definitive answer at all because there are so many moving parts to this,” Dr. Fauci cautioned. From there, he pointed to the importance of holding the line on health precautions while expressing some measured optimism about the months ahead.

“We really do see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “I mean, we still have the challenge that we went way, way, way up in a bad winter … but we’re plateauing now at around 50,000 cases a day. We can’t declare victory now. That would really be ill-advised.”

If we can refrain from premature normalcy pushes, Dr. Fauci added, we can start to enjoy semblances of normal life soon enough.

“If we just keep pushing along vaccinating two to three million people per day, keep a lid on it, keep the public health measures going, I think we’re gonna be in good shape,” Dr. Fauci told Meyers. “I think as the months go by—April, May, June, July—I think we’re gonna continue to do better and better. When you say normal, Seth, I’m not sure what you mean. It’s not gonna be exactly the way it was before this happened but it’s gonna be a heck of a lot better as we approach the late spring, early summer, and get into the fall. I would say it was approaching a degree of normality as we get into the late summer and early fall.”

Dr. Fauci was then asked for his thoughts on those who still refuse to wear masks.

“It really is disturbing to me because I’ve been through all of these phases … If you do it prematurely, it’s gonna come back to bite you,” he said. 

Emphasizing the point further, Dr. Fauci detailed what’s possible if we can keep it together for the next few months.

“We’ve just gotta hang in there a bit longer,” he said. “This is gonna end. We’re not gonna be this way forever but if we pull back prematurely we’re gonna get into trouble.”

Later, Meyers broached the topic of coronavirus variants, prompting Dr. Fauci to give a brief explainer for those confused about what exactly a “variant” is. Thankfully, Dr. Fauci said, the variant that’s becoming dominant in the U.S. at the moment doesn’t currently pose a risk to the success of vaccines.

“Our vaccines seem to protect pretty well against it,” he said, noting that other variants may not share those same qualities. Still, Dr. Fauci doesn’t seem to think that variants at large will be detrimental to getting people vaccinated, even if they ultimately result in the need for booster shots.

“I don’t think they’re showstoppers for us … but we have to pay attention to it,” he said.

Catch Dr. Fauci’s full discussion with Seth Meyers up top. And for more on the current status of the vaccine rollout in your area, consult this.

On Thursday morning Dr. Fauci also joined CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky to testify at a Senate about the White House’s pandemic response. Stream that here:

Europe, meanwhile, has been the subject of reports this week revolving around the region’s struggle to keep a third wave contained. By Easter, leading virologist Christian Drosten told the Guardian, cases in Germany, for example, could be hitting the levels last seen around Christmas 2020. The problem is said to be compounded, in part, by the pause of the AstraZeneca vaccine.