White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci is holding out hope that those who still believe that the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax or “fake news” will eventually roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated.
“They actually don’t think that this is a problem,” Fauci said Thursday in a conversation with The Hastings Center.
“Despite a quarter million deaths, despite more than 11 million infections, despite 150,000 new infections a day, they don’t believe it’s real. That is a real problem.”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had previously estimated that roughly 75 percent of the country’s population would need to be vaccinated to bring the pandemic down to more manageable levels—though he doesn’t believe the virus will ever be eradicated.
Despite the touted benefits of getting vaccinated, Fauci noted that it will still be a challenge to convince all citizens to head to clinics and hospitals for the shot.
A new Gallup poll released earlier this week revealed that 58 percent of surveyed adults said that they would get vaccinated once it’s approved. The figure is higher than in September, but it still trails the 66 percent registered earlier in the pandemic.
In a Pew Research Center survey in September, nearly half of U.S. adults (49 percent) said they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine at this time. And in another survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 54 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t get vaccinated.
The common denominator in all previous polls is that many Americans admitted that they were highly concerned that the pace of the vaccine-approval process will move too quickly, without fully proving safety and effectiveness.
Fauci, though, tried to reassure the general public that all vaccine data are presented to career scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the independent Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.
“The speed itself is a reflection of scientific advances,” he said. “In other words, the technology of making a vaccine is not your grandfather’s technology. It’s the twenty-first century technology.”
Fauci later added: “By the time you get the FDA deeming that this is a safe and efficacious vaccine, you’ve had an independent and transparent process decide. We’ve got to keep hammering that home because for the group of people who are concerned about the process, the process is sound.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.