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Virus Expert Just Gave This "Worrying" Warning

“We have a serious risk,” warns Collins. More people need to be vaccinated.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Hard to believe, but even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has a boss, and that man is Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. Collins, who led the Human Genome Project, has been studying COVID-19 alongside his team, and appeared on Meet the Press with host Chuck Todd to deliver some good news and some worrying news about the pandemic, including discussion of a "serious risk." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.


Dr. Collins Says There is "Serious Risk," With Areas of the Country We Need to Worry About

Emergency medic and doctor moving patient to emergency room in hospital

"When do we get to herd immunity?" asked Todd. "I understand it's a moving target. It's a bit subjective due to variants and things like this, but how much risk do we have of not hitting herd immunity if we continue to have these vaccine hesitancy rates?"

"We have a serious risk," answered Collins. "And the reason nobody will give you an answer, Chuck, is because we don't really quite know with this particular virus, with the variants that are happening exactly what that number is. But it's up there around 70, 85% and we're not there yet. You can see some places in the country that are getting close to that—with a combination of having had a lot of cases of COVID, which also provides you with some immunity, plus the vaccines—but there are other places that are way behind. And those are the places we all worry about. As the next hotspot, you can see, Michigan has gone through a terrible time in the last month. They are now getting past that, which is really encouraging, but what's the next one? You can look at the map and see where vaccines are lagging. Those are the places to worry about."


Dr. Collins We Can Change Our Fortunes By Getting Vaccinated

Woman with face mask getting vaccinated, coronavirus, covid-19 and vaccination concept.

How do we get to herd immunity faster? "We could change that if we can really inspire everybody to get engaged and we're doing everything we can to make it easy to get back— 90% of the country now lives within five miles of a site where you can get a vaccination done. It's out there in the pharmacies. Doctors are getting more engaged. It's not that difficult as it was at the beginning to get yourself an appointment and to get into this immunized group, which is where I think most people really want to be."

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Dr. Collins Said the Chances of a Blood Clot From J&J Were Very Small

Syringe Injection placed against Johnson and Johnson logo

Is the J&J vaccine safe, or might you get a blood clot?

And the few blood clots were found in women ages 18 to 48—should that demographic avoid the J&J shot? The CDC "met for an entire day on Friday and went over all of the data, documenting a total of some 13 cases of his rare form of blood clotting out of some 8 million doses of the J&J vaccine that had been administered," said Collins. "And the strong conclusion of that group was that the vaccine should go forward. It should be made available to everybody, but there should be a fact sheet that provides the information to everybody to understand what the nature is." He called the side effects "very rare." "When you consider that the nature of this risk, this is truly a rare event. And when you measure that against the benefits of preventing somebody from dying of COVID, there is no comparison. We clearly have a situation where the benefits greatly outweigh the risks, even for younger women."


Dr. Fauci Agreed With His Boss, the Same Morning

Doctor holding syringe in hospital.

Appearing this morning on this morning on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, Dr. Fauci echoed Collins' sentiments. Stephanopoulos asked Fauci if we're getting pretty close to normal. "You know, in some respects we are George," Fauci answered. "It really is a challenge. We have vaccines. Now, the more we take a look at the data, as it accumulates, we see it is even more effective than what the initial numbers of the clinical trial. And we're doing very well. You know, we now have more than 30% of the adult population fully vaccinated. More than 50% of the adult population is getting at least one dose, which gives them certainly some protection until they get the next dose. So," he says, we're getting closer to normal. "But the only issue, George, that is something we need to pay attention to is that we're having still about 60,000 new infections per day. That's a precarious level. And we don't want that to go up."


How to Stay Safe During the Rest of this Pandemic

Young man wearing two face masks.

Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek