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With so much coronavirus misinformation out there, how will we ever get enough people vaccinated to stop the spread of the Delta variant? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention with Dr. Ian Smith and Dr. Cameron Webb to answer just that, and in doing so, he shared 6 things that could save your life—including one big mistake we could all learn from today. Read on for them all—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Dr. Fauci Warned The Virus Could Mutate if We Don't Squash it Globally
"At the end of the day, this is going to have to be a global response to a global pandemic," said Dr. Fauci. "And what I would really want to say is to have the richer countries of the world really do for the world with COVID, what we did with PEPFAR"—that was the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—"and HIV, to essentially do what was felt to be impossible, to get lifesaving drugs to most of Africa in a way that would really make them be on a par with the rest of the world and not unnecessarily die from HIV. I believe we need to do that globally, unless we crush this outbreak globally, it will continue to mutate, have variants, which will then evade even the countries that have successfully vaccinated all of their citizens."
Dr. Fauci Said This Was the Biggest "Mistake" Early on During the Pandemic
"When you're dealing with an entirely novel situation in which you've really never had experienced like this before—we've dealt with viruses before, you know, HIV and Ebola and influenza and all that. But when this was thrust upon us, in the very beginning, there was the evolution of information that kept on changing. Understandably, first, we thought it was jumping species and didn't do very well from human to human. Then we found out it did do well from human to human. And then we found out that it was very, very highly transmissible. And then the thing that really was different, that when you say what mistake, technically it was a 'mistake,' but since we didn't know what the data were, you can argue with the definition of a mistake is, is that we know now that 50 to 60% of the transmissions occur from someone who is either completely asymptomatic and will never get symptomatic or someone who is presymptomatic.
So, even though everyone was going on the influenza model, this completely exploded the influenza model in which you have some transmission that might be person to person who would be without symptoms, but not 50 to 60% of it. So community spread was spreading while we were trying to figure out where a mask not wearing a mask, you know, shut down, not shut down, do physical distancing. And as we were doing that, the virus was spreading among us. So if there was anything that if we had to go back and do differently and knew about the incredible capability to both transmit, as well as to do it in a very insidious way, we probably would have called for things in that, now thinking about it likely, would not have been accepted by our society because you can you imagine me getting in front of the TV and saying, okay, we have one documented case and we have a few that we think are community spread, A, you got to shut down the government, the country and B, everybody's got to wear a mask. They would've thought I was crazy, but retrospectively, it was a mistake not to do that." Keep reading to see why Fauci thinks he's been cast as the "boogeyman."
Dr. Fauci Said This is Why He's Been Cast as the "Boogeyman"
Dr. Fauci said vitriol against him is because we're in "a situation where you need a target and the target can't be the entire biomedical research and public health group that are thinking about this, worrying about it, sweating about it. What I have done is I'm a scientist, I'm the director of an Institute that's responsible for research that led quite frankly, for the most part, to the development of the vaccines. Yet somebody needs to be the villain. And we are in a highly politicized area. I think anybody who knows anything about what's going on in the United States—it's unprecedented in the misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theory and whatever it is. So all of a sudden people of a certain bent want a boogeyman. And that's me now, lately, among the very, very far radical Qanon right, whoever they are, and it becomes taking it directly out of the realm of public health."
Dr. Fauci Says Some People Are Spreading "Big Lies"
"I'm part of a team of public health, people of epidemiologists of scientists, a vaccinologist, all who have one goal in mind is to preserve and protect the health of the people of this country and indirectly of the people in the world. And when you start putting politics and characters and boogeyman and crazy things that go on, it just distracts from the process. That's a very sound process that has nothing to do with politics at all, nothing at all to do with it. And yet politics have been thrust into this." Dr. Fauci says it clouds the truth. "If you have this information misinformation, when you have a changing scientific terrain, which naturally has to change, that's a perfect setup for people to say these doctors, these public health people have no idea what they're talking about. Well, then all you have to do is thrust in there some fantasy, some lie, if I might use the fact that it's the truth—here's a lot of big lies going on out there. This is one of them. When they say that: 'Somebody made it up it's a hoax and there's nothing to be worrying about. And don't get vaccinated because vaccines are not good. Masks are bad.' It has nothing to do with politics. It should be all public health."
Virus Expert Added That Black Communities Have Paid the Price for Some of These Lies
"Messages matter," said Dr. Cameron Webb. "They really do. And we saw early on, some of the messages coming out were rooted in confusion, but as things went on, he folks who stepped in to create and craft the narrative oftentimes did have political agendas as they shaped that narrative. And unfortunately, sometimes that narrative left communities behind. We saw three times the case rate in black communities early on, we certainly saw mortality was much higher, and we didn't even have the data that we needed to track what was happening. I think in this moment, one thing that a lot of data has showed us is that, we really need to see that local messengers, local physicians, public health experts. Those are the folks who need to be elevated on the ground." Fauci added: "The best way to counter misinformation and this information is to flood the system with correct information. And that's what I really would like to see black journalists do and continue to do."
Dr. Fauci Said Here's His Approach if You Have Any Questions
"I think is important that I have found, particularly among the African-American and to some extent, the Hispanic community also, is that the reservations that they have, you've got to respect those reservations and not make it seem like, like, 'What are you talking about? Why don't you want to do it?' Because their questions are absolutely valid from so many standpoints historically, and otherwise they have questions. You've got to get the trusted messengers to answer those questions in a very respectful, even though they may seem outlandish some of the things that are asked, but for the most part they're reasonable questions. And that's the thing I find most important."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.