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NBC doctor: People shouldn’t travel or be ‘liberated from wearing masks’ until next summer, even if they’ve been vaccinated

A doctor who appeared onscreen as an expert for NBC News is facing harsh blowback after he suggested on air that even people who have been vaccinated for the novel coronavirus should not travel until the vaccine has been made available to the entire country, which will not happen until next summer.

The doctor, Vin Gupta, M.D., identifies himself in his Twitter profile as a medical analyst for NBC News, and a “Lung/ICU doc” for the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Dr. Gupta made the comments on “Meet the Press” Sunday in response to news that one of the first people in America to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was excited because it meant they would be free to travel.

In the clip, Gupta chastised the individual who planned to travel, saying, “Just for your viewers out there, I know one of the officials who we just saw getting vaccinated is planning on traveling after the second dose. This is a source of confusion. This is one of the misperceptions out there. Just because you get vaccinated with that second dose does not mean you should be participating in things like traveling in the middle of an out of control pandemic or that you’re liberated from wearing masks.”

Gupta continued, “Everything still applies until all of us get the two dose regimen, and we don’t think that’s going to happen until June or July. And, again, this goes back to what we just talked about, Chuck. We don’t know if just getting the vaccination prevents serious illness, or does it also prevent you from getting infection entirely? Meaning, you can still get infected with the virus potentially and pass it on to others. So, really, really critical — don’t let your guard down just because you got vaccinated. You still might be able to get infected with the virus and pass it on to others, so please keep that in mind.”

The tweet containing Gupta’s remarks was promptly “ratioed,” with thousands of Twitter users either replying or quote tweeting the clip with overwhelmingly negative responses. Many Twitter users wondered how the government planned to encourage people to get the vaccine — about which many people already have safety concerns — if doing so will not allow vaccinated Americans to resume their regular activities of daily living until the entire country was already vaccinated.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) went further, saying that Gupta represented a “bizarre, lunatic, totalitarian cult” that was “not about vaccines or protecting people’s lives — it is instead profoundly anti-science, and is only focused on absolute govt control of every aspect of our lives.”

Undeterred by the torrent of criticism, Dr. Gupta was back on NBC Wednesday, and received his dose of the vaccine on air.

Gupta said, “This vaccine is safe, very effective and I am beyond grateful to have received the first dose this morning.” Gupta went on to say, “This virus killed 3K Americans just yesterday. Broad vaccination is our only way out.”

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