Flip-flopping Fauci defends himself after being accused of lying about herd immunity
Dr. Anthony Fauci, 80, is doubling down on a number of eyebrow-raising comments he made last week where he admitted he basically lied about the number of Americans who needed to get the coronavirus vaccine before the American population can achieve herd immunity. Later, he would deny he moved the goalposts in a confusing about-face falsifying his own comments. He claims it was because his statements were ‘guestimates’.
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He will be joining the Biden administration as well to handle the pandemic in the United States. He just issued a warning to the American people that he believes the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come as the U.S. is likely to suffer the effects of a holiday season travel boom. He agrees with Biden’s ‘darkest days‘ assertion.
In an interview with the New York Times, Fauci admitted that he moved the goalposts on herd immunity percentages partially based on public polling data to covertly encourage more Americans to get vaccinated. He wanted to ‘nudge’ them.
When the pandemic first appeared on the scene, Fauci stated publicly that 60-70% of the American public would need to be inoculated with a vaccine to achieve herd immunity. He slightly increased his percentages as the pandemic raged on, suggesting in his interview with the New York Times that achieving herd immunity would require 90% of the American public to receive the vaccine.
The New York Times reported:
“Recently, a figure to whom millions of Americans look for guidance — Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an adviser to both the Trump administration and the incoming Biden administration — has begun incrementally raising his herd-immunity estimate.”
“In the pandemic’s early days, Dr. Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate that most experts did. About a month ago, he began saying “70, 75 percent” in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC News, he said “75, 80, 85 percent” and “75 to 80-plus percent.”’
“In a telephone interview the next day, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goalposts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.”
“Hard as it may be to hear, he said, he believes that it may take close to 90 percent immunity to bring the virus to a halt — almost as much as is needed to stop a measles outbreak.”
“When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” Fauci said. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ʻI can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”
“We need to have some humility here,” he continued. “We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I’m not going to say 90 percent.”
Then came the denials and the deflection. Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Fauci denied that he was not being straight with the American people.
“The reason I first started saying 70, 75, I brought it up to 85 — that’s not a big leap to go from 75 to 85 — it was really based on calculations and pure extrapolations from measles,” Fauci stated. “Measles is about 98 percent effective vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is about 94, 95 percent.”
“When you get below 90 percent of the population vaccinated with measles, you start seeing a breakthrough against the herd immunity,” he added. “So, I made a calculation that COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is not as nearly as transmissible as measles. Measles is the most transmissible infection you can imagine. So, I would imagine that you would need something a little bit less than the 90 percent. That’s where I got to the 85.”
CNN’s Dana Bash confronted Fauci over his admission that public polling played into his public statements. He initially denied that and then reversed course admitting that polling did contribute “a bit.”
“I want to encourage the people of the United States and globally to get vaccinated, because, as many as we possibly get vaccinated, we will get closer to herd immunity. So, the bottom line is, it’s a guesstimate,” Fauci said.
Fauci is now stating that the U.S. may return to semi-normal by the fall of 2021.