Fauci says U.S. may face “dark winter,” but it can be avoided if Americans are vaccinated to a “very high degree” — “The Takeout”

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The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the U.S. could be facing another “dark winter,” though this can be avoided if Americans get vaccinated to a “very high degree” in the coming months.

On “The Takeout” podcast this week, chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett recalled that in late 2020, President Biden had warned that the U.S. was headed for a “very dark winter” because of the rising COVID cases. He asked Fauci if the prevalence of the Delta variant and the 70 million Americans still refusing a vaccine could result in the same forecast this winter.

“You know, if we don’t get people vaccinated who need to be vaccinated, and we get that conflating with an influenza season, we could have a dark, bad winter,” Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, said.

However, “we could also avoid a dark, bad winter if we get people vaccinated to a very high degree over the next several weeks to a month or two,” Fauci also said, adding that there’s “no room” for politicization of vaccines in a public health crisis.

Recently, the Biden administration imposed new limits on orders of monoclonal antibody treatments after demand spiked in states that are still heavily unvaccinated and that are seeing high daily rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Since then, a debate has ensued about the ethical implications of the use of monoclonal antibodies to treat the unvaccinated — versus those who have been vaccinated but get a breakthrough case of the virus.

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Major Garrett interviews Dr. Anthony Fauci on “The Takeout.” September 2021.

screen grab CBS News


Fauci said monoclonal antibody treatments should be made available to people who get infected with COVID-19 “whether or not they’re unvaccinated or vaccinated.” 

Treating patients equally, regardless of vaccination status, is paramount, Fauci told Garrett.

“You should make monoclonal antibodies available to people who get infected, whether or not they’re unvaccinated or vaccinated, you don’t discriminate against somebody because of their choice of getting vaccinated or not,” Fauci said. “You treat each person who gets infected as an individual who deserves the best possible care.”

As the government moves toward expanding the authorization of booster shots for Pfizer vaccine recipients, Fauci said he “doesn’t recommend” getting the boosters unless people are in eligible categories. But despite the fact that over 2 million have gone ahead and gotten a third shot. Fauci showed little concern.

“Since we have enough vaccines to not only vaccinate everybody, but boost everybody, I don’t think it hurts the larger system,” Fauci said.

Fauci, who has worked with seven U.S. presidents, also talked about the differences between the current one and his predecessor. He said he became a “bogeyman” for Trump supporters, while the Biden administration has an “entirely different approach” to COVID-19.

“One of the things that was a bit disturbing in the prior situation was anecdotal things were given almost as much weight as scientifically proven things. That I think was something that I had to speak up against,” Fauci said. “I became sort of the bogeyman for people, you know, who were very much pro-Trump and very much against me. And it was silly because it isn’t me against the president. I was not against the president at all.”

Fauci also addressed largely Republican accusations of “flip-flopping” on mask guidance and other coronavirus protections.

“I know there are detractors who push that aside and say, ‘No, no, no, no, you just fli- flop.’ Well, flip-flop is do you change your mind when nothing else has changed. But when the science changes and you change with the science, that’s not flip-flopping,” Fauci said. “All of a sudden it was me who flip-flopped when it wasn’t. The entire system changed based on the science.”

Highlights

  • Fauci on another “dark winter” in 2021-2022: “Are we going to have a dark winter? You know, if we don’t get the people vaccinated who need to be vaccinated and we get that conflating with an influenza season, we could have a dark, bad winter, but we could also avoid a dark, bad winter if we get people vaccinated to a very high degree over the next several weeks to a month or two.”
  • Working for Trump v. Biden: “One of the things that was a bit disturbing in the prior situation was anecdotal things were given almost as much weight as scientifically proven things. That I think was something that I had to speak up against. And unfortunately, that triggered a degree of animosity towards me that, you know, well, we don’t need to really hash that animosity not only within the environment of the White House, but among the numerous followers of the president. So I became sort of the boogeyman for people, you know, who were very much pro-Trump and very much against me. And it was silly because it isn’t me against the president. I was not against the president at all, not at all.”
  • Biden’s declaration of independence from the virus on July 4 — premature? “Well, I don’t think so… And then all of a sudden comes this Delta variant and bingo. All your plans are turned upside down. That happened.”
  • Ethics of rationing monoclonal antibodies: “You know, you should make monoclonal antibodies available to people who get infected, whether or not they’re unvaccinated or vaccinated, you don’t discriminate against somebody because of their choice of getting vaccinated or not… You treat each person who gets infected as an individual who deserves the best possible care.”

For more of Major’s conversation with Fauci, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” onCBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).    

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
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