tv Dr. Anthony Fauci on the Coronavirus Pandemic CSPAN September 9, 2020 3:13am-3:45am EDT
listen live with the free c-span radio app. campaign 2020 coverage continues wednesday with former vice president joe biden campaigning in michigan at 1:15 p.m. eastern. shortly after that, vice president pence attends a workers for trump event in freedom, pennsylvania. you can follow both events on our website, c-span.org. dr. anthony fauci says it is unlikely, in his opinion, that there will be a coronavirus vaccine by election day. but he remains optimistic about one being ready by the end of the year. he spoke with pbs newshour anchor judy woodruff about public trust in a vaccine, how it would be distributed, and other issues related to the pandemic. judy: thank you for having me. woodruff: dr. fauci, you are there. i will plunge right in.
i know you are there. dr. fauci: i am here, judy. good to be with you. miss woodruff: let's start with the basics. where are we right now in the country in the battle against covid-19. if you are asked for a status report, what would you say? dr. fauci: i would say it is a mixed bag. the numbers are very serious and very concerning. we have had now over 185,000 death, six-plus million infections. the country, a large country, there are some areas doing very well right now, got hitarly those that badly early on. for instance, the new york metropolitan area has for at least one month now been less than 1% test positivity. in contrast in other parts of the country, particularly what
we saw in some of the southern states that had big surges when they tried to open up the economy, that brought our baseline number of daily infections up from 20,000 a day to as high as 70,000, we are back now to 30000 and 40,000. in those states, they are starting to level off and come down which is a really good sign. we are setting to see the beginning of surges in places like montana, the dakotas, michigan, minnesota, iowa. so it is really a mixed bag, judy. some areas are doing really well and some are still threatening to have surges. so it is not an easy situation us. ms. woodruff: so if someone were to say we are rounding the final curve on this, what would you say? dr. fauci: it depends. if you pick the location of the country and say that it could be true. if you look at the country as a whole, we need to be doing much
better than we are doing, that is for sure. month, it is this on the mind of so many families, students returning to school. if people are word about their byldren -- i want to start asking about colleges because there has been a lot of focus. he advised last week that the schools not send students back home if they test positive. what are you concerned about with colleges and why did you make that recommendation? dr. fauci: i made that recommendation because, when you bring in college and university students in, if they get infected, you should try as best as you can't have the capability as a facility to sequester them from the rest of the student body so they don't infect other students. but you shouldn't send him home home,e if you send them just the nature of universities and colleges, you are getting kids from all over the country.
you send them back to their community, you will in essence seeding with individuals capable of transmitting infection, many places around the country. it is better to have them in a place where they can comfortably recover. hopefully that can the a floor of a dorm, or as some cartridg s are doing an entire dorm , dedicated to people who you want to segregate from the rest of the student body. ms. woodruff: all in all, how are american colleges and universities handling this? dr. fauci: in different ways. some are going virtual and online completely. but several that i've had the opportunity to speak with our doing testing on everybody that to the campus for the first time once. baselineoff with a that is essentially zero.
then they are doing surveillance testing at various intervals. the ones doing that, who have the capability of handling students who ultimately get infected seem to be successfully being able to open. unfortunately some colleges don't have that capability of being able to sequester people. they are tending to do more virtual or online teaching. judy: what about the public schools, k-12? how worried should parents be right now? dr. fauci: in contrast to what i just mentioned regarding colleges and universities where young people are coming in from all parts of the country, when you are dealing with k-12, it is a local issue. so, being a local issue, what i and others have said and i think it is prudent to take this approach, is that in this country, we have green, yellow, and red zones. the green zone has little infection activity.
i think that in those cases, you can open up the school in real person to person teaching with relative impunity so long as you are able to identify students who get infected and make the appropriate accommodations for them. when you get into the yellow zone and you have a degree of infections in the community, you have got to be able to adjust and adapt to that. you have to be prepared. you look at the cdc guidelines, but you might want to modify your schedule. morning versus afternoon every other day, separating desks. if physically you can do that. then, finally, if you are in the red zone, you have got to be careful before you bring the children back, because you don't want to create a situation where you have a hyper spreading event as you have in the school. judy: let's turn to the big question, the vaccine. there is a lot of speculation
about when we are going to have a safe and effective vaccine available to everyone who needs it. what do you know about it right now? dr. fauci: right now, there are six or seven candidates the u.s. government is helping to facilitate either by developing with them or by repurchasing -- or by pre-purchasing doses or allowing clinical trial network to be available for them. three of those candidates are already in phase three trials, which means you are going to enroll tens of thousands people, volunteers, to determine if it is safe and effective. phase three trials, the first two got started on july 27. it is a prime and a boost dose. you prime and then 28 days .ater, you give a boost right now, that files are about two-thirds enrolled. we project by the end of september they will be fully enrolled.
then you add another month, a month and a half to get that second dose. that is the reason why i have been projecting, judy, that, by the end of the year november, , december we will know if we have a safe and effective vaccine. i feel cautiously optimistic that we will, given the preliminary data we have seen. and then there are a couple of other vaccines that are going to go into phase three trial at the end of september and then october. have 11entially, you candidates in play, which really is the reason why we're optimistic we will be successful with one or more. that will likely start taking place by the end of the calendar year 2020. woodruff: but they idea that we are going to have a vaccine by november 3, how realistic? dr. fauci: i find it unlikely. the only way you can see that scenario come true is if there are so many infections in the clinical trial sites that you
get an efficacy answer sooner than you would've projected. like i said, it is not impossible, judy, but it is unlikely we will have a definitive answer at that time. more likely by the end of the year. ms. woodruff: we know with regard to the public's confidence in the vaccine, polls are showing perhaps a third of americans are not confident enough, and they are saying they are not going to take the vaccine at first. that's a pretty high percentage. at what point does this become a problem? dr. fauci: i think it already is a looming problem. one of the ways we can mitigate against that is by being very transparent in our outreach to the community about what the data are, what they show, and what criteria you're using in order to make a decision about the vaccine being safe and effective and making it
available. we have got to regain the trust of the community about when we say something is safe and effective they can be confident , it is safe and effective. that is the reason why we have to be very transparent with the data, as well as what it is that goes into the decision-making process about approving a vaccine. ms. woodruff: are we on track to do that right now, to be transparent? dr. fauci: we are, judy. one of the things we need to do better on, we have got to get a higher percentage of minorities into the clinical trial so that when we get the data, we can say that it applies equally to the minority communities -- african , native, latinx american and others. we want to make sure that when we say something is safe and
effective, we mean it is safe and is for everyone. that is what we need to do better on. ms. woodruff: from the fall, with the onset of flu season, dr. fauci, you and others have raised concerns about the convergence of the flu and covid. we have seen in the southern hemisphere somewhat milder flu outbreaks than they might've -- thethan there might have been. does that give you more hope for the fall here or not? dr. fauci: it does. i never take anything for granted, judy. that is dangerous always particularly when dealing with public health. so one of the things we can say is we should continue to encourage people to get vaccinated with the influenza vaccine. but if what happened in the southern hemisphere happens here, that would be a very good and favorable thing. so, what we think has happened, we think because people have done public health measures to avoid infection with the
coronavirus, namely masks, distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands, we have had this secondary effect that there is are less influenza infections. in australia this year, for their influenza season, which goes from april to september, they have had one of the lowest rates of influenza infections in memory. so, if we can do that, i think that would be very favorable. ms. woodruff: what do you know about the coexistence, if that is the right word, of flu and covid? what is it about having the two or being exposed to the two? dr. fauci: there are several issues. number one, it is wintertime. when you have winter indoors, an uptick oft
respiratory illnesses. if we do have a full-blown flu season, which i hope we don't, and we do not get control over the coronavirus, you can have several challenges. one is differentiating between covid and flu. because they are all medications -- there are medications for flu , and we are getting more medications for covid. number two, we would not want to see an overwhelming of the health care delivery system. for example hospital beds and , intensive care unit beds. even health care personnel. that would be a very serious issue, if we begin to see any overwhelming of that. that is the reason why when you have two coexisting infections during the winter months it becomes problematic. ms. woodruff: do you already know how effective the flu vaccine will be this year? or do you just have to watch that play out? dr. fauci: i no.
you definitely have to watch that play out. you don't know from year-to-year how effective that will be. ms. woodruff: is there a sufficient supply of the flu vaccine? there has been so much focus on covid. dr. fauci: yes. we have been vaccinating more and more people with the influenza vaccine as the years go by. last year, i believe it was something like 170 million doses were distributed. we want to do at least that amount and hopefully more this year. ms. woodruff: do you have concern about the public's reluctance to have the flu vaccine this year simply because covid is out there and they are just worried about any kind of vaccine? -- and there is just worry and apprehension about any kind of vaccine? judy, something that bothers me is people who have reluctance to get vaccinated particularly when you know of vaccine would be of such considerable benefits. we have to fight the classic
, and whenever there is any doubt about the efficacy and the safety which is , what we are seeing with covid, you have to do an extra special effort to engage the community and outreach to them to give them the data they can make an informed decision. ms. woodruff: you mentioned a moment ago, dr. fauci, you want to make sure, of course, that racial minorities are addressed, whether it is the manufacturing, the distribution of the covid vaccine. how do you do that? how do you go about making sure this is distributed equitably? dr. fauci: it is all community outreach. we have done that back in the day with hiv, with prevention, with prevention measures. you have to engage the community. both getting the appropriate demographic groups involved in the clinical trial.
you prove it is safe and effective. once you do that, you engage the community in an active way. that is with psa's, getting out in the community yourself, boots on the ground, speaking to people, getting them involved. it is not an easy process but it is definitely worthwhile. ms. woodruff: are there strategies in place to do that right now? dr. fauci: absolutely. in fact, we have been planning for this for a few months right now. judy: that is underway. i also want to ask you, this is research america -- i want to ask you about the effect covid has had on other health risks and frankly on our research infrastructure in this country? dr. fauci: judy, unfortunately, it has been disrupted across the board. not only in the united states, but globally because of the shutdown and the diversions of resources and attention away from other diseases and covid.
for example, the typical type of screening for things you need to pay attention to, screening for breast cancer, for prostate cancer, getting people following up on things that were suggestive of an issue, but you asked to come and follow up, when the follow-up is delayed by months, you can wind up getting to a situation where diseases that have nothing to do with covid, diseases of different types, infections, cancer, autoimmune, they might get neglected. routine checkups you would need tend to get neglected. we know in the hiv community the disruption of services and the disruption of availability of drugs can actually really be a problem.
bottom line is it is quite disruptive and has deleterious effects on how we handle other diseases. ms. woodruff: is there evidence that has happened? dr. fauci: absolutely. you are seeing upticks in things you would not have had if you have the appropriate screening and appropriate follow-up. ms. woodruff: how important is it, and maybe this is a self answering question, there has been a holdup of congressional funding. how important is it that funding continue? dr. fauci: it's extremely important. we, fortunately, being a health /science-based institution, have been treated with considerable degree of generosity by the congress. they have given us the kinds of funds we need to be able to do our duty and mandate with regard particularly to covid. ms. woodruff: you are not involved -- maybe you are, in lobbying for funds.
but, is it your sense that funding is going to be forthcoming, that is necessary to bolster the research? dr. fauci: yes. we have gotten a considerable amount already. and we have not been disappointed every time they have asked, and they do, they ask us what it is that we need. we give them an honest assessment of our needs, and thus far they have been met. ms. woodruff: people talk about pandemic fatigue, if you will. the country has been at this now for more than six months. how do you ensure that the american people stay vigilant, stay mindful of this? because the numbers are my mindnumbing. we are at 190,000 americans dead. millions have been infected. the numbers just keep coming at us. people are still gathering. sometimes wearing masks, sometimes not.
how do you keep people vigilant? dr. fauci: you have to keep reminding them of the importance of being vigilant. it is clearly a risk when you have been exhaustively involved in something now for eight months. one of the things i do, and i believe it can be effective, is remind people there will be an end to this. we will end this crisis we are in right now, both from a public health standpoint and from a scientific standpoint. for example with vaccines and treatments. when people know there is an end in sight, they can hang on a bit longer. it is when they throw their hands up in exasperation and say , this is never going to end, so to heck with it. why don't we just get on with our lives and do what we want to do. that can be a very dangerous conclusion to arrive at.
because it leads to carelessness and even more infections and the propagation of the pandemic. but when people see this, they just hang in there a little bit more, we will come to a natural end to this. that is what i try to emphasize to people when i speak. ms. woodruff: what do you worry the most about at this point? is it the vaccine or something else? dr. fauci: i don't worry about it, to, but i am cautiously optimistic that we will get a vaccine. i think we will not really ease to a degree of normality we all seek until we do get a safe and effective vaccine. i believe we will have that by the end of this year, the beginning of the next calendar year of 2021. so let's hope that i am correct and it will be available. i think that will really be a game changer for us. ms. woodruff: i'm looking at a
couple of audience questions. one of them is, if there is a choice of vaccines for people to have access to, is that possible there will be several vaccines? available to people? will people be able to make a decision about which one to choose? dr. fauci: i think it is eminently possible, if not likely, judy, that there will be more than one candidate. there are six or seven we ourselves in the united states are directly or indirectly involved with, not even counting the vaccines that are being made in foreign countries like russia and china and the u.k. and others. surprised if we only had one vaccine. i think there will be more than one available. judy fish how do people make the decision about which one is the right one for them? dr. fauci: the companies will be advertising as to the specifics
and specifications of their product. i think it will be more or less something less sophisticated than the one that is available in the supply place where you're getting your vaccine as opposed to you pick the one you want. if a certain pharmacy chain buys and maybe becomes the one who distributes it, fine. that there was another governments were deeply involved with that is the one you're , going to get. i don't think he will be able to pick and choose like you would in a candy store. ms. woodruff: in terms of political influence rushing a , vaccine, how could you assure americans there will not be a political thumb on the scale? dr. fauci: because there are several issues that i think will mitigate against that. the data as they come in, go to an independent data and safety
monitoring board who then make the recommendations as to whether or not the vaccine is effective or not, whether it is harmful or not. then, when that data is available, it would ultimately become public. the fda has publicly promised they would not allow political considerations to get involved in their decision. in addition, when they do make a decision, they get input from an outside advisory group who will be involved in looking at the data and making recommendations about a decision. so there will be a couple of levels of control over that decision. ms. woodruff: you mentioned the fda. i know we only have a few minutes left. but it was the fda that rolled out original information about the so-called convalescent last -- convalescent plasma where they came back and said later that it had been overstated. when you have something like that happen isn't it natural for
that people will be skeptical? dr. fauci: you are right, judy. i don't want to deny that. that is reality that they will likely be skeptical. we have to get them to understand there will be multiple layers of checkpoints before this type of decision is made. and there are a lot of people looking at this, a lot of people in the scientific community. myself included, who are looking at this to try to make sure it gets done in a way that is scientifically sound. should say,: i not just the fda, but there has been some back-and-forth at the cdc where there has been guidance that has then been pulled back and questions raised. i have to ask the question again, how come the american people be sure they are getting straight science from these government agencies? dr. fauci: again, it is not going to be easy given what has gone on before. we just have to keep being quite transparent. i have been right from the beginning always quite clear in
how i feel about the importance of the integrity of the science and the integrity of the , decision-making process. i and many of my scientific colleagues will continue to be very vigilant about that. -- woodruff: someone asks just before we wrap up, dr. fauci, i mentioned convalescent plasma and the original recommendation from the fda. it was reported in the new york times that nih did not support that recommendation. can you shed any light on what happened inside the administration? dr. fauci: we looked at the data and it wasn't really very clear-cut whether or not this was effective. are really quite loose in the sense of being able to say there has to be a chance of efficacy. so there was a bit of a discussion back-and-forth about were tot those data
indicate that. at the end of the day, when the randomized placebo-controlled trials come out with the results, we are going to know what the right answer was. ms. woodruff: finally, dr. fauci , i know we just have a couple of minutes -- when we think about americans who are going to most need a vaccine first, particularly frontline workers, people with compromised immune systems, perhaps the elderly, how do you think about that and is that all decided right now about what groups of americans need to get the vaccine first? dr. fauci: yeah, i mean, that is decided by an advisory committee on immunization practices, which reports to the cdc. ultimately the cdc is involved in the final responsibility of distribution. this year, the national academy of medicine, whose recommendations i think came out literally a day or two ago, is called in to complement that decision-making process.
and, as you said i think you , called it correctly, it is not unexpected that frontline workers, health care workers, are those who get it first. those with essential jobs, those that would benefit most, namely those with underlying conditions, including the elderly. play outlike it will that way with the covid vaccine. ms. woodruff: any final message you want to give to this community, dr. fauci? dr. fauci: it is what i said before. to really essentially get people through the frustrations of having been in this for so many months. we need to hang in there together. this will end. it will end even sooner if we go continue to go by the public health measures that have been recommended time and again for so many months. judy: dr. fauci, thank you so much. i am going to turn the program back over to derek.
thank you. dr. fauci: good to be with you as always. derek: thank you, dr. fauci. thank you, judy. people were asked what they would trust the best. the bible or science, and foreign away, science came first. thank you very much. >> c-span's washington journal. we are taking calls live on the air on the news of the day and discussing policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, national journalists and reporters at cohen tells us what is -- reporter zach cohen tells us what is in the relief bill. progressks about the groups push for ideological balance to the supreme court and
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