With 4.2 million infections and 148,000 deaths since the pandemic began, America is the world’s epicenter for coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about how to “get our arms around this” to prevent “further suffering and further death.” Read on to see how you can protect yourself—and how the vaccine development is going.
On The Fundamental Things You Can Do
“The fundamental things of avoiding crowds, physical separation, universal wearing of masks, closing the bars, hand hygiene — those things matter and they can make a difference. Hopefully we’ll appreciate that and do it in a very strict way.”
On If Tens of Thousands of Americans Will Die
….in the next few months, he said, “Well, that is conceivable. I mean, that’s something we hope to be able to avoid, but if you look at the deaths as they’re occurring right now, about a thousand per day, unless we get our arms around this, get it suppressed, we’re going to have further suffering and further death and that’s the reason why as I have often said many, many times, there are things we can do right now in the absence of a vaccine that could turn us around.”
On the New Vaccine Being Tested
“This is a phase three trial, which is determined to find out if in fact the vaccine works. In addition to getting information further on safety, the safety data thus far, it looks good, but now it’s crunch time. We’re trying to figure out does it actually work? The trial was launched today. Record time. And this is phase three right now, which will take several months to determine if in fact it does work. So to go from not even knowing what the virus was in early January to a phase three trial is really record time. And I might add it was not done compromising safety, nor was it done, compromising scientific integrity. It’s just the technologies we have now. And the ability to move very quickly have brought us to where we are right now doing a phase three trial.”
On Any Guarantees the Vaccine Will Work
“Well, there is never a guarantee when you’re doing a clinical trial. If there was a guarantee you wouldn’t have to do the trial. So that’s one of the reasons why you do a trial of this, of this type. And this magnitude is to determine definitively does the vaccine work and does it protect so no guarantee. However, I must say in the same breath, that if you look at the early data, particularly the data from the phase one trial, and you looked at the kinds of responses that were induced in those volunteers, there were robust antibody responses. They were of a magnitude that you would see in convalescent plasma of individuals who’ve recovered from infection. And that’s one of the hallmarks of prediction of the success of a vaccine….So that’s why it makes me cautiously optimistic, even though we can’t guarantee anything but cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine that works.”
On What Happens if Many Americans Will Refuse the Vaccine
“We’ve got to get out there with people who are trusted at the community level to get individuals to understand that this is extremely important for their own health and importantly for the health of the community and the health of the nation. Because if we get a widespread uptake of vaccine, we can put an end to this pandemic and we can create a veil of immunity in this country that would prevent the infection from coming back. We’ve got to get these people convinced, and you have to do it by extending yourself to the community, not by a dictum from Washington, but by engaging the community at the community level. And I hope we can turn around that reluctance to get vaccinated, right?”
Stay Safe the Fauci Way
As for yourself, avoid catching COVID-19: wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.