Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and expert on infectious diseases for four decades, delivered some blunt messages to the American public during an online video interview with actor Matthew McConaughey. In an election year, the doctor asked the American people NOT to politicize the coroanvirus pandemic.
In response to a question about the politicization of the virus, he compared the pandemic to other challenging times in U.S. history. “Our country has been through very, very difficult situations. We’ve been through a Depression, we’ve been through a World War. We pulled together through 9/11.” But, he added, if you are not taking precautions, “You are part of the problem rather than the solution.”
Asked by McConaughey whether he had “$1 million” invested in a coronavirus vaccine, Fauci laughed: “I have zero. I am a government worker. I have a government salary. That’s it!” He kept his original prediction that there will be a vaccine available early next year when, he said, there will be a “moderate” amount available. “As we get well into 2021, we should have enough for everybody.”
In the absence of a vaccine, Fauci told McConaughey that social distancing, regular hand washing and face masks are the only alternatives as “herd immunity” — where those who are immune protect the most vulnerable in the population — is not feasible for coronavirus. That requires a very high level of population immunity for COVID-19, and for the virus to not mutate.
Also see: Dr. Fauci tells MarketWatch: I would not get on a plane or eat inside a restaurant
Island nations and Asian countries, such as New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, managed to control coronavirus. These countries shut down decisively, avoiding the worst of the pandemic, and carried out more effective contact tracing to prevent community spread. Warmer island nations, he said, may have better weathered COVID-19 as people spend more time outside.
Fauci also said that aiming for 100% herd immunity, which Sweden attempted before reversing their policy, instead of maintaining safety procedures and waiting for a vaccine in early 2021, would have dire consequences. “If everyone contracted it, a lot of people are going to die,” he said. “You’re talking about a substantial portion of the population.”
COVID-19 has now killed at least 767,054 people worldwide, and the U.S. ranks 10th in the world for deaths per 100,000 people (51.5), Johns Hopkins University says. As of Saturday, the U.S. has the world’s highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (5,324,930) and deaths (168,703). Worldwide, confirmed cases are now at 21,261,598.
The Dow Jones Industrial Index (DJIA) closed Friday with a small gain, while the S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) closed slightly lower as investors await progress on a vaccine and, as Democrats and Republicans debate the details of the next unemployment benefits, round two of the economic stimulus program.
AstraZeneca (AZN) in combination with Oxford University, BioNTech SE (BNTX) and partner Pfizer (PFE) GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Merck & Co. (ID:MERK) Moderna (MRNA) and Sanofi (SAN) among others, are currently working on COVID-19 vaccines.
Gallery: Dr. Fauci’s 10 Most Important Coronavirus Predictions You Need to Know (Best Life)