Dr. Fauci Just Said the 4 Words You've Been Waiting to Hear
It's been months of bad news with COVID outbreaks nationwide. Now, Fauci has some hope.
It feels like we're at another turning point with the COVID pandemic. After weeks of declining coronavirus case numbers nationwide, we've had a change of luck and cases are now climbing in 32 states across the U.S., The New York Times reports. But it's not all bad news, according to Anthony Fauci, MD. In a conversation with Wired editor at large Steven Levy published on Sept. 30, Fauci actually sounded optimistic, particularly when discussing the COVID vaccine. In fact, Fauci said the positive words you've likely been waiting to hear: "This outbreak will end."
He added, "We will get a vaccine. And then if we combine a vaccine with prudent public health measures, we can put this outbreak behind us."
Levy told Fauci that he's among the majority of Americans who are suspicious that a vaccine might be rushed before the November election. That statistic he's referring to is likely from a Sept. 17 poll out of the Pew Research Center, which found that 77 percent of Americans believe a vaccine would be approved before it could be proven safe and effective and 78 percent believe the process is moving too quickly. As a result, only 21 percent of American adults surveyed said they definitely plan to get the vaccine, a drastic drop from May when 42 percent said they would get vaccinated.
"The fear is understandable, but if I give you the facts, I hope that you would see it's not reasonable," Fauci said, adding he has full confidence in the process. "The way the system is set up, there [are] independent bodies that have access to the data that no one else has access to. And they make the decision based on the scientific data, whether the vaccine is safe and effective." This Data and Safety Monitoring Board, made up of clinicians, vaccinologists, statisticians, and ethicists, are "the only ones … who intermittently look at the data and they can come to any of a number of conclusions."
With five vaccines now in the final stage of trials, Fauci reiterated the vaccine timeline he's previously discussed. He believes "it is likely that we will know whether we have a safe and effective vaccine somewhere around November and December." He added there will be about 100 million doses by the end of the year for those who need it most, and up to 700 million doses by the end of April for the rest of the population.
Fauci has been trying to regain the public's confidence in regards to a coronavirus vaccine for the past few weeks. In an interview with Vox reporter Sean Rameswaram on Sept. 25, he said, "Everybody is worrying that someone is going to make an end run around that and try to get a vaccine out for political reasons. Well, that will not happen, but if it does … it will be really transparent. Because the scientists will see the data. The FDA has pledged publicly multiple times that they will not approve a vaccine unless they've established that nonpolitical scientists agree that it's safe and effective."
Similarly, during an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 29, Fauci said, "I feel cautiously optimistic, as a scientist, that we will have a safe and effective vaccine. I believe it will happen, and it will happen likely by this end of the calendar year."
But in his conversation with Wired, Fauci made clear that the prospect of a vaccine isn't the only reason he's optimistic. Simply put, he says looking on the bright side is the only way to get through this pandemic.
"We should not despair, 'cause despair makes you throw your hands up and say, 'It doesn't matter what I do, what's going to happen is going to happen,'" Fauci said. "That is incorrect. It does matter what we do. And if we do it for a while longer, we will look behind us and the outbreak will be behind us, not among us." And for something the immunologist is worried about, Dr. Fauci Says This One State Is "Asking for Trouble."