In a recent interview, Dr. Fauci discussed the two main obstacles that prevented the US from controlling Covid-19 effectively. According to Fauci, the first obstacle was political divisiveness, which led many conservatives to doubt public health advice regarding vaccination and mask-wearing. Fauci said that it is extraordinary to see fundamental disagreements about vaccination across different states and political affiliations, which have resulted in higher death rates among Republicans than Democrats and Independents.
The second obstacle, Fauci said, was the fragmentation of the US healthcare delivery system. The public health system is underfunded and disconnected from the for-profit healthcare system. Fauci noted that this system is putting the nation’s health in jeopardy, and as many as 500,000 Americans may have died unnecessarily from Covid-19.
Despite these challenges, Fauci acknowledged that the US scientific enterprise has been a significant boon to the world by developing vaccines against the coronavirus in less than a year. Fauci noted that the pandemic would have been much worse if there had been no vaccine in 11 months. The development of new vaccines is underway to make the process even faster, within 100 days.
Fauci also discussed the confusing nature of the pandemic, particularly the highly transmissible nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was unprecedented and not experienced before. Fauci said that this virus fooled scientists in the beginning, leading to confusion about the need for masks, ventilation, and inhibition of social interaction. Scientists were also surprised that people could spread the infection without showing symptoms themselves.
When asked about the nation’s low vaccination rate, Fauci speculated whether mandates did more harm than good. Fauci said that people who were on the fence about vaccination felt compelled to get vaccinated and that this smoldering anti-science feeling is palpable in the country.
Finally, Fauci stressed that it is essential to listen to people who pushed back against public health advice during the pandemic. He cited his experience with fighting HIV and how listening to critics helped him learn more about the disease. Fauci believes that it is necessary to strengthen measures to prevent a new natural occurrence or a new lab leak, regardless of the origin of Covid-19.