Infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the US government must “get people to take the vaccine” against Covid-19, but warned that normality won’t return until next summer and masks will still be recommended.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Fauci heralded the recent announcement that US drugmaker Pfizer’s experimental vaccine is more than 90 percent effective against Covid-19. However, Fauci went on to say that the next challenge for politicians and scientists would be convincing people to take the jab.
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“That’s great, but we have to get people to take the vaccine,” he said. Should Americans line up for the shot, he predicted that “we could start getting things back to relative normal as we get into the second and third quarter of the year, where people can start thinking about doing things that were too dangerous just months ago.”
As for what activities Fauci considers “too dangerous,” the coronavirus chief told CBS News on Friday that anyone celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas with their families keep masks on indoors, and weigh the “risk/benefit ratio” before traveling for the holidays. Asked by Tapper if “Christmas is probably not going to be possible,” Fauci punted the question, and talked again about the need to “get most of the country vaccinated.”
CNN's Jake Tapper this morning: "Christmas is probably not gonna be possible." pic.twitter.com/z56ifNCr3G
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) November 15, 2020
President Donald Trump has promised to use the US military to distribute vaccines, while Joe Biden’s transition team has reportedly reached out to several pharmacy chains to discuss a distribution. Yet no matter who holds office after January, they will face a skeptical public.
A poll by Pew Research in September found that just one in five American adults would “definitely” take a vaccine if it were offered to them. A whopping 49 percent would refuse the shot, with 24 percent saying they would “definitely not” take it. Of the nearly half who would shun the vaccine, 76 percent said they were concerned about potential side effects.
Unlike traditional vaccines, which use an inactive form of the pathogen they protect against, Pfizer’s offering is an mRNA vaccine. These vaccines are untested on a mass basis, and work by introducing a strand of RNA into the body’s cells, where it then tells the person’s DNA how to begin making antibodies. Researchers at Cambridge University state that side effects could include “inflammation or autoimmune reactions.”
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Even if the public is receptive to a vaccine, Fauci told Tapper that masks and social distancing are here to stay for the near future.
“I would recommend to people to not to abandon all public health measures just because you’ve been vaccinated,” he warned. Fauci – who initially advised against masks as a protective measure – added that “even though for the general population [a vaccine] might be 90 to 95 percent effective, you don’t necessarily know for you how effective it is.”
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