As coronavirus cases barrel past 25 million nationwide, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the Coronavirus Task Force, spoke with the Colors podcast, hosted by JJ Green and Chris Core, about the outsized impact of the virus on the African-American community. Read on to find out his dire warning, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Says African-Americans Get More Infections Because of 'Social Determinants'
"The likelihood that African-Americans will get infected versus whites or others—and importantly when—and if they do get infected the likelihood of their getting a serious outcome, more so than whites. And the answer is unfortunately, yes, to both because African-Americans, you'd never like to generalize, but it is true as a demographic group, as a whole, obviously, but many exceptions, but as a demographic group, their jobs that they have a generally more put them out there interacting sometimes without having the easy capability of physically separating, as opposed to me and you talking through a computer that as a demographic group, they are at higher risk of actually acquiring infection."
Dr. Fauci Says African-Americans are Hit Worse Because of Pre-Existing Conditions
"What happens is that they have a higher prevalence and incidence of those very co-morbidities, which make it more likely that if they get infected, they will have a severe outcome. And that is diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, the kinds of things that we have in society that are disproportionately and disparately more among the African-American [community]. So I call it almost a double whammy, a double disadvantage."
Dr. Fauci Says African-Americans—and Everyone—Need to Be Convinced to Take the Vaccine
"We've got to reach out and engage at the community level minority groups to be totally transparent with them and explain to them why it's to their benefit to not only participate in the trial [to perfect a new vaccine]. But once the answer is gotten, to actually take the vaccine, it's even more so for them to do that because they are at a higher risk of a serious consequence if they get infected."
Dr. Fauci Tried to Predict When This Would All Be Under Control
"It's something that is so difficult to predict because it—really much of it— depends on what we ourselves are doing in the sense of the public health measures necessary to contain the outbreak. Now, one of the problems is that as we've seen the most effective way to do that is to essentially shut down the problem with shutting down and staying shut down for a prolonged period of time, is that that adds to extraordinary economic instability….Now, if we, as a global community, pull together and try to reopen for those that have essentially shut down in a prudent and careful manner that doesn't allow resurgences and rebounds of cases, then we could actually do fairly well, or at least much better than the projections are now."
Dr. Fauci Said Things Could Get Worse—Much Worse
"If we continue to have uncontrolled infections, it's very difficult to make a projection, but you could do multiple times of what is going on right now, another factor which will have an important impact in any kinds of projections is the ability to be able to develop and distribute a safe and effective vaccine, as well as safe and effective treatments. And that's going to be one of the things that's going to be a major determining factor that not only for us here in the United States, but certainly globally—as you probably know, there are a number of candidate vaccines that are in various levels of testing too, in the United States. And soon three will be an advanced phase, three trial to determine safety and efficacy, which if things go the way we hope they will, by the end of this calendar year and into 2021, we should know if we do indeed have a safe and effective vaccine."
Dr. Fauci Said When We Might Be Able to Take a Vaccine
"Theoretically, it could start happening towards the end of this year with limited numbers of doses. And as you get into 2021, you could start talking in tens of millions. And as you get into the mid part of 2021, according to the companies, and there are at least a half a dozen that we are dealing with, they are making advanced purchases, developing the capabilities of producing large amounts. And they're talking hundreds of millions of doses. And by the end of that year, a billion doses. So it's not going to be, everybody's going to have the availability of a vaccine on the beginning of 2021, but it will incrementally increase hopefully rapidly, which would obviously answer the question. Well, who's going to get it first. That's an important question. That's the reason why the standard way is to get independent advisory committees."
Dr. Fauci Explained How Herd Immunity Works
"It's an interesting concept that has been proven with other infectious diseases. When viruses enter into what you call a naive population, naive, meaning immunologically naive, no one has any substantial protection to the virus that's circulating. That means virtually everybody's susceptible because the virus has an absolutely open season….When you have the substantial proportion of the population that is protected, it kind of boxes out the virus. It doesn't allow it to spread to those vulnerable people who are not protected. So that means that the herd is protecting those who are vulnerable."
How to Avoid COVID-19
Do what the scientists say: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.