Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the U.K. COVID-19 variant is a “clarion call” for people to get the vaccine against the deadly virus.
On Sunday, the infectious diseases expert spoke with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” where he discussed the emergence of the U.K.’s highly contagious new B.1.1.7 variant and spoke of a more “ominous” strain that is circulating in both Brazil and South Africa.
What are the details?
Fauci said that the new, concerning strains should embolden Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and be more prudent in following public health guidelines.
Fauci — director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who will be President-elect Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19 — said, “When you have a variant that’s really very, very different in the sense of it’s more contagious, it tells you to do two things: One, double down on the public health measures that we’ve been talking about all the time … but also, another important thing, the easiest way to evade this negative effect of these new isolates is … when the vaccine becomes available, people should get vaccinated.”
He continued, “Boy, if ever there was a clarion call for people to put aside vaccine hesitancy. If we can get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, we’d be in very good shape and could beat even the mutant.”
The CDC on Friday published a concerning report suggesting that the B.1.1.7 variant could become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States by March.
The report noted that the more contagious strain could further overwhelm health care resources.
“Taking measures to reduce transmission now can lessen the potential impact of B.1.1.7 and allow the critical time to increase vaccination coverage,” the report added.
Earlier in the interview, Fauci explained, “[T]he more cases you get, even though on a one to one basis, it’s not more virulent — meaning it doesn’t make you more sick or more likely to die — just by numbers alone, the more cases you have, the more hospitalizations you’re going to have. And the more hospitalizations you have, the more deaths you’re going to have.”
Elsewhere during the interview, Fauci said that the United States is “weeks away,” and “not months away,” from considering an approval of new COVID-19 vaccines.