- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans who have avoided COVID-19 should get vaccinated if they don’t want a predicted spring 2022 return to normalcy to be torpedoed by the “wily virus.”

The infectious disease expert told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that ending restrictive lockdown measures hinges on the population obtaining herd immunity through vaccinations, although he says health officials “don’t know” when that will be.

“There’s a big caveat there, Anderson: This is a very wily virus,” Dr. Fauci said of his spring 2022 prediction on recapturing pre-pandemic life. “We thought we were gonna have that degree of freedom as we got into the Fourth of July and the summer, and then along comes a [sucker] punch with the delta variant, which is extraordinary in its capability of spreading from person to person. So, we hope we’ll be there at the time frame that I mentioned, correctly being the spring of 2022, but there’s no guarantee because it’s up to us. If we keep lingering without getting those people vaccinated that should be vaccinated, this thing could linger on leading to the development of another variant, which could complicate things.” 

Mr. Cooper then pressed the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as to when, specifically, experts expect to reach herd immunity.

“What percentage of the population would need to get vaccinated — even if they’ve had it before — would need to get vaccinated in order to get that kind of control?” the CNN host asked.

“Anderson, in all transparency and honesty, we don’t know that because we have not been to the point where we’ve gotten there, then fell below, and then see the virus come back,” Dr. Fauci responded. “We’ve been there with measles. We know with measles, you get 90-plus percent of the population vaccinated, you have herd immunity. … The number could be 90, it could be 85. We don’t know what it is.” 

The call for “transparency and honesty” by Dr. Fauci stands in contrast with his December interview with The New York Times, which broached the subject of his shifting statistical goalposts. 

“When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” he told the newspaper at the time. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85. … We need to have some humility here. 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.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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