Fauci talks herd immunity, booster shots, vaccines for kids

COVID-19

‘Don’t want to declare victory prematurely’

NEW YORK (PIX11) — As the country continues its battle against the COVID-19, more people are getting vaccinated, and the number of positive cases continues to decrease, but is the end of the pandemic near?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Friday that the country is “going in the right direction, and we’re doing it pretty dramatically.” He said COVID cases in the country have continued to drop, but “we don’t want to declare victory prematurely.”

The country needs to continue to work and get as many people vaccinated, and as states continue to open up, those who are not inoculated should continue to wear masks, especially if they’re in states and cities where the vaccination rate is low. “The best way to get rid of that mask is to get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

Herd immunity

New York and New Jersey are reporting their lowest cases since the start of the pandemic. How close are we to declaring “herd immunity?” 

“We don’t know what that threshold number is,” Fauci said. The infectious disease doctor said the country should focus on getting as many people vaccinated as possible “rather than trying to contort ourselves to figure out what that number is.”

Despite seeing a decrease in COVID cases in the tri-state area, Fauci said that with a global pandemic, not every city, state, or country has infection and death rates as low as in New York and New Jersey. “It isn’t uniform throughout the country,” Fauci said. “It’s over when it’s over uniformly.”

“We’ve got to crush this throughout the country and throughout the world. Then we could feel good,” he added.

Boosters and breakthroughs

How certain is it that COVID boosters will be needed, and how soon will they be needed? “I don’t know,” Fauci said, noting that experts are conducting studies about timelines for immunity levels and predicting breakthrough cases.

The New York Yankees reported breakthrough cases last month. Fauci said that does not mean the vaccine is less effective. Millions of people are vaccinated, and the vaccines are about 94 to 95% effective.

“Breakthroughs don’t indicate efficacy,” he said. Either way, there are only extremely low rates of vaccinated people getting infected, and even fewer serious cases leading to death.

Boosters will be looked into when or if the country sees more breakthroughs over time, and how many there are. Fauci remains hopeful it will be years before boosters will be needed.

Masks and kids

If you’re fully vaccinated, do you need to worry about being around those who are unvaccinated? Fauci discussed the complexity of society where not everyone is vaccinated and herd immunity hasn’t been reached. An establishment might say people need to wear a mask when they walk in, but as an individual, those who are fully vaccinated can feel safe.

Fauci said vaccinating kids younger than 12 may happen as soon as the end of this year or the beginning of next year. He said he’s certain that more adolescents between 12 to 15 will be vaccinated by the time they return to school in the fall.

Emails

Over 800 pages of Dr. Fauci’s emails from the first few months of the pandemic have revealed America’s chief medical advisor to be responsive, concerned, and utterly confused by his celebrity status. Fauci said that those emails are being misconstrued by people with agendas.

“One of the problems is that when you get thousands of emails and you have an email, if somebody has an agenda and they want to make a gotcha point, it’s extremely easy to pull a phrase out of an email and just give those words without the context, or take an email on one day—which says something that is a little uncertain—and then five to 10 days later there’s another email that completely explains it,” he said.

“You show one email but not the other email,” he said. But overall, Fauci said he was fine with the release of the emails. “When you’re a public servant, people have access to what you do.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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