Fauci to Brown U panel: Country needs to unify to fight coronavirus


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – White House Coronavirus Advisor and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci told a Brown University panel on Friday that despite an increase in cases across the country, it’s not too late for states with a high number of cases to turn things around during the fall and winter months.

While talking with the incoming dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, Dr. Ashish Jha, Fauci partially blamed the increase on a lack of unity.

“Anyone who says we’re not living in a divisive era in our country is not paying attention,” said Fauci, adding that opening up the country’s economy can’t happen without following guidance from health officials. “We really need to get that point across that one is not the enemy of the other. One is a gateway to get to the other.”

Fauci said there were six fundamental principles that people should follow to decrease the curve of cases:

  • Universal wearing of a mask
  • Physical distancing
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Outdoors is “better” than indoors
  • Washing your hands 
  • Staying away from bars

“I think if somehow we can get the country unified to do that together, I don’t think we need to go into the fall and winter thinking we’re going to have a catastrophe,” Fauci said. “We could go into the fall and the winter coming out of it looking good if we do certain things.”

Fauci cited Arizona as a state that was able to strengthen their handle on the pandemic after they had an increase in cases.

When asked about the development of a vaccine, Fauci said scientists are hopeful the vaccine will be at least 75% effective, but added that 50% to 60% would also be acceptable.

“We know the body is capable of making a good response and the reason we know is because we have so many people who clear the virus and do well.” he said. “So the goal of a vaccine is to do as well or hopefully better than natural infection when inducing a good response.”

Fauci also said that those who receive the vaccine will be prioritized by frontline workers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions. 

Another group that has been heavily impacted by the pandemic are minorities, and Fauci said not only are many minorities frontline workers, but they’re also often living in communities that are medically underserved. 

“The thing you can do now is to make sure that resources are concentrated geographically to those demographic groups that are clearly at higher risk of infection so they can get immediate testing, immediate results, immediate access to healthcare,” Fauci said.

After taking questions from Brown University students, Jha took a moment to ask Fauci if he has taken a day off since the pandemic started.

“I have not had a single day off since the beginning of January,” said Fauci, adding his wife helps keep him sane and is “an extraordinary partner.”

Jha ended the Q&A by thanking Fauci for being a “role-model” to the medical community.

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