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Dr. Fauci just gave people another reason to hurry and get their coronavirus vaccines

February 18th, 2021 at 3:45 PM
Coronavirus vaccine
  • Getting your coronavirus vaccine may have even more of a benefit than just preventing you from contracting the virus, according to White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • There’s also a growing indication that the COVID vaccine helps stop you from picking up and passing along the virus post-vaccination.
  • Through mid-day Thursday, more than 57 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the US since vaccinations began in December.

Here’s the latest snapshot of how the US is doing in its race to administer as many coronavirus vaccine doses as possible, as quickly as possible: As of mid-day Thursday, Americans have been given 57.4 million COVID vaccine doses, with an average of 1.61 million doses administered every day in the US over the past week.

That’s according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, which shows that in the US, 17.3 doses have been administered for every 100 people, and 79% of the shots delivered to states have been administered. That’s all encouraging and speaks to an uptick in the pace of vaccinations, though it remains to be seen how much that pace has dropped off over the past few days as many localities, like my own, have had to pause their COVID vaccinations on account of the brutal winter weather that’s forced so many closings. Nevertheless, where we are now in terms of completed COVID vaccinations is definitely positive news — and White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci just shared some more.

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Just two weeks ago, Dr. Fauci was still cautioning people: “Currently, we do not have enough data to be able to say with confidence that the vaccines can prevent transmission. So even if vaccinated, you may still be able to spread the virus to vulnerable people.” He said that because it wasn’t clear whether the COVID vaccines from drugmakers like Pfizer and Moderna can keep people from passing on the infection post-vaccination. The vaccines keep you from getting sick, in other words, but experts weren’t sure whether you could still inadvertently pick up and pass along the virus.

Now, however, Dr. Fauci has reversed himself — or, more specifically, he’s acknowledged the strong likelihood that the vaccines do more than just keep you from getting sick.

During the Feb. 17 White House COVID response team briefing, Dr. Fauci was again asked this question about post-vaccination transmission. Here’s what he said: “What has happened over the past couple of weeks is there have been some studies that are pointing into a very favorable direction that will have to be verified and corroborated by other studies.”

Along these lines, he cited a study from earlier this month that suggested people who’ve been vaccinated in Israel have significantly reduced viral loads. “When you follow breakthrough infections in the individuals in Israel who had been vaccinated, compared to infections in individuals who were not, there was a markedly diminished viral load in those individuals who were vaccinated but had a breakthrough infection, compared to individuals who were not,” Dr. Fauci said.

Pair that with the results of a study published in The Lancet on February 2, which Dr. Fauci said shows that “the lower the viral load, the less likelihood of transmissibility, (and) the higher the viral load, the higher the likelihood of transmissibility,” and you can see why he’s now much more optimistic about this. Bottom line, Dr. Fauci said during the COVID presentation this week, the coronavirus vaccines are “important not only for the health of the individual, but it also has very important implications from a public health standpoint for interfering and diminishing the dynamics of the outbreak.”

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.




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