Reminding us all once again that vaccines are only effective among a population that's willing to do the right thing, Dr. Fauci is warning that hopes for COVID-19 herd immunity are dashed if too many people remain opposed to basic science.
Speaking with CNN over the weekend, Dr. Fauci—director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—first spoke on the current problem with bafflingly bold community spread.
"What has happened—I guess understandably but nonetheless regrettably—is that people took the attitude in some places of either all or none," Dr. Fauci said. "Either you're locked down or you just let it fly and you just ignore many of the guidelines of physical distancing: wearing a mask, not shaking hands, avoiding crowds. And what happened is you see pictures on the TV of the fact that, even in states that are telling their citizens to do it correctly, they're doing that. There are crowds, they're not physical distancing, and they're not wearing masks. That's a recipe for disaster."
And while Dr. Fauci is a supporter of certain so-called “reopening” pushes, he noted that we are currently experiencing the fallout from not doing so in a more responsible and “measured” way.
"Now we are seeing the consequences of community spread which is even more difficult to contain than spread in a well-known physical location … When you have community spread, it's insidious," he said.
As for the vaccine, Dr. Fauci revealed his goal of effectiveness, as well as urged community leaders to step up efforts to get the word out about vaccine safety.
"I doubt seriously that any vaccine will ever be 100 percent protective," he said. "The best we've ever done is measles which is 97 to 98 percent effective. That would be wonderful if we get there. I don't think we will. I would settle for 70 to 75 percent effective vaccine because that would bring you to that level of what would be herd immunity level."
Asked about polls showing that as many as a third of Americans would refuse a vaccine even if it's free, meaning possibly only 70 to 75 percent of Americans would be willing to get the vaccine once available, Dr. Fauci confirmed the slim chances of herd immunity in that scenario.
"Unlikely," he said. "That's one of the reasons why we have to make sure that we engage the community, as we're doing now. Get community people to help us for people to understand that we are doing everything we can to show that it's safe and that it's effective and it's for the good of them as individuals and as a society to take the vaccine."
From there, Dr. Fauci addressed the prevalence of science rejection in America, a longtime regional issue that's showing serious damage in the COVID-19 era.
"There is a general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among some people in this country," he said. "An alarmingly large percent of people."