Fauci Says Americans Not ‘Done’ With COVID-19, Wants More People Jabbed

Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a Sunday media blitz that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, while lamenting that booster uptake is low and urging more Americans to get the shot.

In separate interviews on CBS and NBC that aired Sunday, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden said that the United States has made substantial progress with respect to various outbreak-related metrics like cases and deaths but insisted that the outbreak isn’t over.

“I don’t like reading in the newspapers or getting my report from the COVID team: today we lost 400 people, today we lost 350 people,” Fauci said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “So it’s much, much better than it was, but it is not at a level low enough where we should feel we’re done with it completely, because we’re not.”

Fauci said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that between 300 and 400 people are still dying from COVID-19 every day and that uptake of the latest vaccine booster is running between 11 and 15 percent in the United States.

“We’ve got to do better than that,” he said of the vaccine uptake numbers, while warning of a COVID-19 winter surge.

“So I think the idea that, ‘Forget it, this is over,’ it isn’t,” Fauci said. “We’re going into the winter right now. We have the wherewithal to mitigate against another surge. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Last week, the White House rolled out a campaign to convince more Americans to get boosted by year’s end.

Lab Leak Theory and China’s Zero-COVID Policy

Fauci, who plans to step down from his government roles next month, was also asked about what he thinks about China’s zero-COVID policy and where he stands on the lab leak theory.

“I have a completely open mind about that, despite people saying that I don’t. I have a totally open mind about that,” Fauci said of the theory that the COVID-19 virus leaked from a lab, though he added that the evidence collected thus far “strongly” points to a natural occurrence.

But Fauci said that Chinese authorities have not been transparent about providing data from around the beginning of the outbreak, confounding efforts to uncover the truth about the origin of the virus.

“Even when there’s nothing to hide they act in a suspicious, non-transparent way,” Fauci said of China’s communist regime.

‘Rather Draconian’

On China’s COVID-19 lockdowns, which recently sparked a wave of protests, Fauci called them “very, very severe and rather draconian” and nonsensical from a public health standpoint.

But he argued that the situation in the United States early in the pandemic justified limited lockdowns and other temporary curbs to “flatten the curve.”

“Almost three years ago when we were having our hospitals overrun, you remember the situation in New York City, you had to do something immediately to shut down that flow,” he said.

“So remember we were talking about flattening the curve and the social distancing and restrictions and shutdown, which was never really complete, is done for a temporary period of time for the purpose of regrouping, getting more personal protective equipment, getting people vaccinated,” he continued.

“It seems that in China it was just a very, very strict extraordinary lockdown where you lock people in the house but without any, seemingly, endgame to it,” Fauci said.

He added that he’s baffled by China’s COVID strategy, in particular around the regime’s decision not to target the elderly, who are more vulnerable to the virus, with vaccinations.

“They did not, for reasons that I don’t fully appreciate, protect the elderly by making sure the elderly got vaccinated,” calling China’s COVID-19 strategy with respect to the elderly “almost counterproductive.”

Asked whether he thinks China’s authoritarian regime might have deliberately decided against protecting the elderly, Fauci said he’s not sure.

“I don’t know what it was. But it certainly, from a public health standpoint, didn’t make much sense.”

In his interview on CBS, Fauci was asked whether he’d appear before Congressional committees probing the origins of COVID-19.

“Of course,” Fauci replied, adding that he’s “very much in favor of legitimate oversight” though he argued that the pandemic has become politicized while denying that he had become involved “in the politics.”

“And I’m not going to get involved now in the politics, I’d be more than happy to explain publicly or otherwise, everything that we’ve done, and I could defend and explain everything that we’ve done from a public health standpoint,” Fauci said.

Fauci, who helped lead the federal government response to the pandemic during President Donald Trump’s administration, repeatedly backed harsh measures that were believed to help contain COVID-19, including around social distancing and the closure of schools and businesses.

Studies have since identified the measures as contributing to jumps in suicides, mental health crises, learning loss, and delayed health treatments.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek

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Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: ‘Hit your target’ and ‘leave the best for last.’

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