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March 4, 2021
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Dr. Anthony Fauci reportedly said in an interview that he has been changing his public statements regarding the pandemic because he didn’t think people were ready to hear his true beliefs.
Fauci has been slowly increasing the number of Americans he says need to be vaccinated for the U.S. to reach “herd immunity” in public statements, the New York Times reported. He reportedly told the Times he has done so “partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.” Earlier on in the pandemic, Fauci had said the United States would need 60 to 70 percent of people to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity (New York Times).
“When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” Fauci said. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.” That prompted the Times to ask him why he had been “moving the goalposts,” their report says. He continued: “We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I’m not going to say 90 percent.”
He also reportedly admitted that weeks earlier he wanted to keep his estimates low because more Americans were skeptical about getting a vaccine. As more Americans have become comfortable getting a vaccine, he has been willing to increase his estimate to his true projections, according to the Times. Fauci has been a key medical advisor to multiple presidential administrations and is a trusted figure for many Americans as a source of information about the coronavirus pandemic (Daily Caller).
Herd immunity is when a large percentage of a specific population becomes immune to a virus; immunity can happen naturally or by way of vaccines to prevent viral infections like the flu and COVID-19. His comments appear to be in contrast with some of his previous statements regarding herd immunity against COVID-19. About 1 million vaccines have been distributed so far, representing about 0.3% of the country’s population of about 331 million. Meanwhile, about 18.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, or more than 5% of the population. The Trump administration is planning to deliver about 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year (FOX).
In addition, it seems that the World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its definition of “herd immunity.” The WHO definition prior to the change stated: “Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection. This means that even people who haven’t been infected, or in whom an infection hasn’t triggered an immune response, they are protected because people around them who are immune can act as buffers between them and an infected person.”
The WHO’s new definition is largely drawn from a speech delivered in October by the organization’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It states that protection from COVID-19 can’t happen without mass vaccination: “‘Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached” (MSN).
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE