Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, delivered some blunt messages to the public during an online video interview on Thursday evening. He told actor Matthew McConaughey there are a few key reasons why many island nations and Asian countries have managed to control coronavirus better than the U.S., and said politicizing the virus
In response to a question about the politicization of the virus, he compared this situation 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.”
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.
Fauci said that aiming for 100% herd immunity, instead of maintaining safety procedures and waiting for a vaccine in early 2021, would have dire consequences for the country. “If everyone contracted it, a lot of people are going to die,” he said. “You’re talking about a substantial portion of the population. The death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable.”
In an interview on McConaughey’s Instagram Story
the actor asked Fauci if certain smaller island nations have more successfully beaten back coronavirus because their residents spent more time outdoors. Fauci replied, “It’s conceivable that that’s the case.” Fauci added that outdoors is always better than indoors for sports, restaurants and school classes.
Asked why so many Asian countries have had relative success in controlling outbreaks of COVID-19, Fauci said, “When they shut down, they shut down like, ‘Bang!’ When we shut down, it was never in the level that the Asian countries did.” Fauci said the stop/start and disparate approaches to shutting down in the U.S. has not worked out as well.
COVID-19 has now killed at least 751,910 people worldwide, and the U.S. ranks 10th in the world for deaths per 100,000 people, Johns Hopkins University says. As of Thursday evening, the U.S. still had the world’s highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (5,244,238) and deaths (166,971). Worldwide, the virus has infected at least 20,739,537 people.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
ended marginally lower Thursday, while the Nasdaq Composite
ended slightly higher as investors awaited progress between the Democrats and Republicans on round two of a fiscal stimulus during the coronavirus pandemic, and progress on a possible vaccine.
A plethora of companies are currently working on COVID-19 vaccines: AstraZeneca
in combination with Oxford University, BioNTech SE
and partner Pfizer
Johnson & Johnson
Merck & Co.
Fauci also said it’s not a simple choice between public health and economic health. “The quicker you pull together and get it down, the quicker you get back to normal. We’re all in this together. Unless we do this together, we’re not going to get this under control,” he said. “To think that you can ignore the biologic and get the economy back, it’s not going to happen. You have got to do both.”