June 9 (UPI) -- White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday described the COVID-19 pandemic as his "worst nightmare," adding that the threat of the virus is not yet over.
During an interview with the BIO Digital virtual health care conference, Fauci said he was stunned by the speed at which the coronavirus spread and "how rapidly it just took over the planet."
"That's millions and millions of infections worldwide and it isn't over yet. And it's very condensed in a very, very small time frame," Fauci said. "You know, first notice at the end of December, hit China in January, hit the rest of the world in February, March, April, May, early June."
Fauci noted an efficiently transmitted disease can spread throughout the world in six months or a year but "this took about a month."
Fauci said the state of modern travel was part of what allowed the virus to spread so quickly.
"It's a testimony to not only the extraordinary capability of transmission but of the extraordinary travel capability we have," he said. "I mean, it stared in a very well-defined place in a city in China called Wuhan.
"And China is a big country. A lot of people travel all over the world. They travel to the United States. They travel to Europe."
Since emerging in late 2019, COVID-19 has infected 7,185,573 people and resulted in 408,953 deaths worldwide, according to figures by John's Hopkins University. The United States has reported the most cases and deaths in the world with 1,973,803 confirmed cases and 111,751 deaths.
Despite stating that the transmissibility of COVID-19 makes it more threatening than Ebola or HIV, Fauci said he was "very heartened" by efforts by the pharmaceutical community to develop a vaccine.
"The industry is not stupid. They figured it out," Fauci said. "There's going to be more than one winner in the vaccine field because we're going to need vaccines for the entire world. Billions and billions of doses.
"So, I'm almost certain that we're going to have multiple candidates that make it to the goal line, get approved and get widely used."