Fauci meets virtually with Virginia COVID leaders to analyze state of the virus, vaccinations

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a webinar hosted by the Virginia Department of Health's Office...
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a webinar hosted by the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Equity.(WVIR)
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:24 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Things are changing with the pandemic at a rapid pace, and it can be tough to keep up.

For 30 minutes Tuesday evening, we got some answers when a few of Virginia’s leading COVID-19 voices met virtually with the voice most synonymous with fighting the virus.

Alongside Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s vaccination coordinator, and Gov. Ralph Northam, Dr. Anthony Fauci congratulated Virginia on having over half of the population fully vaccinated. But he said we still have to do better and warned about what could happen if our country doesn’t.

“If you’re asking the question ‘Is the vaccine doing the job, we asked it to do, namely protecting me from getting sick?’ the answer is a resounding yes” Fauci said.

Keeping people out of the hospital is why Fauci calls the shot a success. It’s also why Northam hopes more people will get vaccinated.

“Virtually all of our hospitalizations and deaths from COVID now are among unvaccinated people,” the governor said. “And I know we all share the goal of preventing unnecessary illness.”

Avoiding COVID is a bit tougher now with the rise of the Delta variant, a more contagious and transmissible strain.

“When vaccinated people get infected, even if they have no symptoms at all, the level of virus in the nasal pharynx is equivalent to the unvaccinated person,” Fauci said.

Here’s some good news: Fauci says there is still evidence that it’s harder for Delta to infect a fully vaccinated person.

“One of the things we don’t have hard data on is the number of people that get asymptomatically infected,” he said. “We know that when you’re talking about symptomatic infection, it protects you, to the tune of about 80-plus percent”

The challenge now is getting the shots into hesitant arms. That’s what will determine the future of the virus and when the pandemic might come to an end.

“I don’t think we’re going to get the type of surge that would require a lockdown,” Fauci said. “If we get the majority, the overwhelming majority of the people that were unvaccinated vaccinated, we’re going to do real well. If we don’t succeed in getting the overwhelming majority of the population we will have smoldering infection that will prevent us from getting back to normal.”

Not everyone can get the shot -- that includes kids under 12. Fauci says the best way to keep them safe is to get vaccinated if you can and have them wear a mask in crowded indoor settings like schools.

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