“To think that you can ignore the biologic and get the economy back, it’s not going to happen,” Dr Fauci told the actor Matthew McConaughey, in an interview broadcast on Instagram on Thursday.
“It’s just not going to happen. You gotta do both. You’ve got to get control of the biologic as you carefully open the country.”
Dr Fauci’s comments came as the US coronavirus death toll topped 167,000, according to official figures. The pandemic continues to ravage the US and has been resurgent over the summer months.
Some 51,000 new infections have been reported in the past 24 hours alone. Florida, Texas and California, in particular, have seen cases soar in recent weeks having eased lockdown restrictions.
More than 35 US states have positivity rates higher than 5 per cent – the World Health Organisation’s threshold for reopening, according to an analysis by Johns Hopkins University.
Many of these (including Florida, California and Texas) are more than three times level, the data shows.
Da Fauci stressed that not only would failure to control the virus hurt the economy, but it would have a negative impact on people’s health.
“There’s a lot of different things that could go wrong, beyond the economy,” Dr Fauci said.
“There’s projections that if you stay shut down, the number of deaths unrelated to Covid will go up.
“The number of suicides, overdoses, family issues, such as child abuse and things like that, they all go up,” he added.
Donald Trump has continued to push for schools and businesses to reopen despite large numbers of cases of deaths across the country.
As the presidential race heats up, Mr Trump has been keen to revive the economy as quickly as possible as he eyes a second term in the White House.
But the prospect of Mr Trump getting reelected looks increasingly unlikely.
A forecast released earlier this week by polling guru Nate Silver put Trump’s chances at just 29 per cent, compared with Joe Biden on 71 per cent.