Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is warning that creating an effective coronavirus vaccine may not be enough to achieve herd immunity against the virus.
Fauci, a key member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, sat for an interview with CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen streamed at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Sunday night. The infectious diseases expert said that even with an effective vaccine, the United States is “unlikely” to reach herd immunity in the short term because of “anti-vaccine” sentiments.
“There is a general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among some people in this country — an alarmingly large percentage of people, relatively speaking,” Fauci said, according to Axios.
The United States is on track to have 100 million doses of a viable vaccine by the end of the year as long as the candidate can pass the clinical trials it is currently going through. The federal government and the biotech company Moderna have fast-tracked the development and manufacture of a vaccine and are investing in creating millions of doses in the hope that the current strain of vaccine proves effective.
Fauci has complained in recent weeks of some Americans’ skepticism about experts and authority. On a June 17 episode of the Department of Health and Human Services podcast “Learning Curve,” he said that some people’s unwillingness to heed the advice of himself and others is “inexplicable.”
“One of the problems we face in the United States is that, unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are, for reasons that are sometimes … inconceivable and not understandable, they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said. “When they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who is talking about science, there are some people who just don’t believe that, and that is unfortunate.”
His comments came after he admitted that public health experts had initially “downplayed” the usefulness of face masks during the pandemic to prevent a run on supplies. Fauci said that the misdirection was necessary to save masks for frontline health workers such as doctors and nurses where the supplies were needed most.
During his Sunday interview, Fauci criticized states attempting to contact trace potential carriers of the virus by using hundreds of phone operators rather than sending people to test for the spread of the virus through communities.
“[Communities should] get boots on the ground and to go out there and look for the people, instead of getting on a phone and doing so-called contact tracing by phone,” Fauci said. He noted that contact tracing in any capacity is not a reliable way to stop the spread of the disease, however.
“When you have community spread, it’s insidious because there are so many people in the community who are infected but asymptomatic. So the standard classic paradigm of identification, isolation, contact tracing doesn’t work no matter how good you are because you don’t know who you’re tracing,” Fauci said.
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