Fauci Gives COVID-19 Vaccine, Spread Update at UVA
*VPM News intern Joi Bass reported this story.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave updates on COVID-19 vaccinations and the current state of the pandemic during a virtual lecture hosted by the University of Virginia medical school on Wednesday.
Fauci said the virus was “the worst outbreak of a respiratory infection in 102 years since the 1918 Spanish flu,” with over 55 million cases and 1.3 million deaths globally. The United States, with more than 11 million cases and 246,000 deaths, has been particularly impacted.
With winter approaching and people likely to gather indoors during the holidays, Fauci warned that the current rapid spread of the coronavirus will increase, saying we’re in a particularly bad position right now.
He also addressed the racial and ethnic disparities of COVID-19, which affects people of color at disproportionately high rates. Fauci said in particular, African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos are experiencing higher infection and death rates.
Although vaccines have shown promising results, Fauci said many of the people who would benefit most say they’re unwilling to get vaccinated. The medical establishment and the U.S. government have violated trust with African Americans by conducting unethical, dangerous human experiments in the past, and modern racial inequities in healthcare access further complicate the issue.
He also pointed to our contemporary politics as a factor. Fauci said vaccine development is independent of those politics, “yet because of a lot of the noise that comes out of Washington, in this divisive time that we're living in, some people may say well I don't really trust that they aren’t trying to rush this out to look good.”
Mask wearing will still be necessary even after the vaccine is available, Fauci said. And vaccination will only be effective if it’s widely practiced. With so many COVID-19 cases coming from those who are asymptomatic, he estimated 75-80% of Americans will have to take the vaccine to prevent spread.
On Monday, drugmaker Moderna announced their coronavirus vaccine was 94.5% effective, following a report from Pfizer that they’d developed a vaccine that was more than 90% effective.