Asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta about the misinformation that Fox News spread about the Covid-19 vaccines, Fauci said, “We would probably still have polio in this country if we had the kind of false information that is spreading now.”
He added: “If we had it back decades ago, I would be sure we still had polio in this country.”
The statement comes as dangerous lies about Covid-19 vaccines swirl around, and as health experts warn of the more transmissible Delta variant increasing proliferation among unvaccinated Americans.
Nationwide vaccination rates are declining, while the number of new Covid cases in the last week in 46 states is at least 10% higher than the number of new cases in the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Acosta that the vaccines have been shown to be “very effective in preventing symptomatic, clinically apparent disease.”
Yet less than half of the U.S. population – 48.5% per capita. The latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – fully vaccinated. And it is communities with lower vaccination rates that are at risk.
“Despite the increase in the Delta variant, 97% of the people hospitalized or killed by this virus are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and a member of US Food. and the Vaccine Advisory Committee’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. “If the Delta variant essentially escaped immunity induced by vaccination, you should have seen an increase in people who have been vaccinated but still were hospitalized and killed. And that has not happened.”
Among the states that have fully vaccinated less than half of their residents, the average Covid-19 rate was 11 new cases per year. 100,000 people last week compared to 4 per. 100,000 among states that have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
“If you look at the extraordinary success of eradicating smallpox and eliminating polio for most of the world – and we are on the verge of eradicating polio – if we had had setbacks for vaccines as we see in certain media, I think not at all. not that it has been possible to eradicate smallpox at all, we probably still want smallpox, ”Fauci said.
Polio was once a common virus. In some young children, it can affect the nerves and cause muscle weakness or paralysis. There is no treatment and no cure, but vaccination can prevent infection.
Just in August 2020, polio was eradicated from Africa after governments and non-profit organizations had been working since 1996 to eliminate the virus with sustained vaccination campaigns.
Polio has now been eradicated in America, Southeast Asia, Europe, most of Australasia and in Africa. Wild strains of polio are now circulating in only two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
CNN’s Dakin Andone, Travis Caldwell, Kaitlan Collins, Donie O’Sullivan, Naomi Thomas and Aisha Salaudeen contributed to this report.