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Dr. Fauci Still Has This Message to Anti-Vaxxers

The infectious disease expert says the politicization of COVID vaccines is "unfortunate."
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The coronavirus surge is peaking, and despite the tragedy continuing, in the words of one expert, we are clearly entering the next phase, a phase in which we co-exist with the virus. Those who get vaccinated and boosted will be more protected. Those who do not will be more at risk. This was actually top of mind for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, last May, when he spoke with the John Adams Institute—and it's astonishing how what he said is still relevant. Since the institute today just reposted their interview for all to hear, read on to hear what Fauci says about how you can stay safe—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Dr. Fauci Said This About People Who Do Not Want to Get Vaccinated

Patient refuses to take vaccination.

"Despite the fact that they are present, that we can take them, I think that one in four Americans and Europeans do not want to take the vaccine," said the moderator. "How do you explain this, this widespread conspiracy and paranoia regarding pandemics and vaccines? It seems as if people and governments have lost their trust in medical science."

"Unfortunately," answered Fauci, "a certain segment of the population have done just what you are suggesting. And that is very, very troublesome. It would almost be inexplicable why, when you have a pandemic that has already killed [so many people] it seems extraordinary that when you have a highly effective vaccine that has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt to be able to protect you against this deadly disease, how we still have a relatively high percentage of people who don't want to get vaccinated. And what has happened in the United States—unfortunately, and to some extent, I would imagine in the European Union and other regions of the world—is that a global health or a public health issue has become politicized. I mean, in the United States, as you know, there's been this argument that even wearing a mask or not has undertaken a political connotation. And unfortunately we're seeing the same thing with vaccines, because if you do surveys, people of one political persuasion are much, much more likely to not want to get vaccinated than others. That just doesn't make any sense at all, because a public health issue is a public health issue. And yet it has entered into the realm of politics, which is really unfortunate."

He added that being him, in his position, is difficult. "It is very much so because although I am, often praised for high integrity, sticking to the facts, sticking to the data, sticking to the evidence, I've also been polarized. And there are some people who are very adamantly against me for doing that, which again is very difficult to understand why you would be opposed to someone whose only goal is to tell the truth and make recommendations based on data and evidence, how that person can be a lightning rod of opposition is again, as inexplicable as people not wanting to get vaccinated. It all falls under the same umbrella as it were."

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Dr. Fauci Said Watch Out for Misinformation on Social Media

media technology and modern lifestyle concept: young woman with smartphone reading fake news at the park

Dr. Fauci says it's a great time to be learning about the virus. But information comes with a downside. "When you get into the situation of information, that's when the social media comes in and that's good news and bad news," he said. "The good news is that you get the wide dissemination of potentially important information. The bad news is that misinformation can also spread very effectively on social media. So we're going through an interesting period right now where it's information overload—almost because constantly, in a 24-hour news cycle, everything comes out. People are talking about things within minutes without even being able to evaluate it. So there's—it's a mixed blessing. It can be very positive in some respects, but it can be really negative in other respects."

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Dr. Fauci Said Here's Why COVID is His "Worst Nightmare"

Medical staff work in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for COVID-19 multiple patients inside a hospital.

Why is COVID Fauci's worst nightmare? "It's extraordinarily unique," he said. "If you look historically at the outbreaks of respiratory born diseases that have the capability of widespread throughout the world—historically, we had, certainly in recorded history, the worst outbreak in 1918 of a new pandemic influenza. Since that time, the world has experienced other pandemics exclusively with influenza because of influenza's extraordinary area capability of spreading. So we had pandemic influenzas in 1957. We had them in 1968 and we also had one in 2009, which was relatively mild. It spread a lot, but it was relatively mild. So when you have pandemics, if they have two characteristics that make them just devastating, the 1918 pandemic had that: It was able to have an extraordinarily efficient capability of spreading from person to person with the potential of a high degree of morbidity and mortality. And when I said that the coronavirus turned out to be my worst nightmare, because in all my experience, being the director of the Institute for 37 years and having to deal with outbreaks like Ebola, like Zika, but particularly influenza, I always said my worst concern was that there would be the evolution of a new virus, likely jumping species from an animal reservoir, which all the other pandemics did clearly, Infecting humans and having the capability of being extraordinarily efficient in transmission and being able to do a lot of damage with regard to killing. And unfortunately for the world, we now, all of us, you and I are living through the worst pandemic in the last hundred years. Which is the reason why I called it my worst nightmare."

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Dr. Fauci Said Here's How COVID Compares to Other Viruses

Biotechnology scientist in ppe suit researching DNA in laboratory using microscope. team examining virus evolution using high tech for scientific research of vaccine development against covid19

"Whenever 75% of the new infections, namely infections that have never involved humans, 75% of them are zoonotic in that they jump species and adapt themselves to humans—many times when you have a pathogen, usually a virus, but not exclusively a virus, but usually a virus that jumps species, it may not really have a great impact on society because it doesn't adapt itself very well to humans. But every once in a while you get a pathogen and that does that. It not only jumps species, but it adapts itself to transmission and humans in our lifetime. One of the most, daunting one has been HIV AIDS, which jumps species from a non-human primate to a human. And now, it will be 40 years next month that we first recognized HIV, even before it had a name or even had an ideologic agent. And that has involved over 75 million people worldwide and has killed over 35 million people. So it doesn't have the acuteness of the coronavirus, but over a period of decades, it has really devastated the world. With regard to coronavirus, coronavirus is generally speaking—they have been relatively mild viruses that have been the cause of about 15% of all the common colds that we experience. However, in 2002, we had our first glimpse of the pandemic potential of coronavirus with SARS. That again originated from China in Guangdong province, spread throughout the world, infected about 8,000 people and led to almost 800 deaths. That was a warning sign that coronaviruses have the capability of doing something well beyond the common cold. And then in 2012, we had MERS, which was also of pandemic potential, but never really spread efficiently throughout the world. And it's still smolders a bit in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. But then the third pandemic is the one that we're dealing now. So it is something that we really must continue to pay attention to —the future." 

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Dr. Fauci Said Humanity Has Caused, Indirectly, an Outbreak Like COVID

Cut trees and burnt down forest.

Are we humans in part responsible for these outbreaks? "Indirectly, we are," said Dr. Fauci. "We encroach upon the environment. We push back rainforest. We perturb the interaction between animal species and humans. So the modern day style of life is conducive to this. And the other thing that we have now that we didn't have centuries ago is the travel situation. So right now, as we all know, you can get on a plane and 18 hours later, you could be on the other side of the world. So an infection that maybe a couple of centuries ago would never have gotten out of a country like China—or any other country and not just China, it could be any other country—would either never leave. Or if it did, it would take months and months, if not years now it could happen overnight, just with a plane ride."

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Dr. Fauci Said Here's What the End Will Look Like

Woman removing face mask from her face outdoors.

How and when will this pandemic end? "That's a good question," said Dr. Fauci. "If you look at the history of human pathogens, we've only eradicated one particular pathogen in all of the history of mankind to eradicate—and that was smallpox. We've eliminated, in certain regions of the world, a number of pathogens, polio in many countries, no longer exists. Measles in certain countries, no longer exists. That's what's called elimination. And then there's control. Control means you don't get rid of it, but it goes to such a low level that it doesn't become a public health issue. I believe that by the time we get the world vaccinated, and I hope that that's sooner, rather than later, we will wind up somewhere between elimination and control, where you may not get rid of it completely, but the world will be protected against it by vaccination, so that it will be only an, an unusual event that you would get an outbreak. I believe that's where we'll be. It likely will take a couple of years for the world, but maybe sooner than that for the developed world, like certain European Union countries in the United States."

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Dr. Fauci Thinks We Can Eventually Get Back to Normal

young friends eating together at restaurant
Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

"I think we can get back to normal," said Dr. Fauci. He has cautioned that new variants may arise and make things more difficult. But: "I said, this once and it had a big blowback for people saying that Fauci says, 'You gotta wear a masks all the time,' which is not the case, but I believe that in other parts of the world, besides Asia, during seasonal outbreaks of things like influenza and Respiratory syncytial virus, I think people will elect to wear masks the way the Asians often do during the season of respiratory illnesses. I'm not saying it's gonna be mandated by anybody, but I think people are gonna say, you know, the one thing that was a positive impact on this is that in Europe, in Australia, in the United States, we barely had a flu season during the winter because as people were wearing masks and were staying separated. So even though coronavirus was raging, there was almost no influenza. Most people think that that's because a lot of people were wearing masks." So wear your mask, get vaccinated and boosted, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek