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Dr. Fauci Just Gave This "Concerning" Warning

The coronavirus is “unstable” and kids are getting sick.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Just when it felt like we were turning the tide in the pandemic, a new COVID variant, Delta, put more kids in the hospital, raises cases and is causing outbreaks, mainly among the unvaccinated—and scary "breakthrough" infections in the vaccinated. How can you keep yourself and your children safe? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke to PBS to provide five pieces of life saving advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Dr. Fauci Warned That COVID is Now Unstable. Don't Act Like It's No Big Deal.

Scientists and microbiologists with PPE suit and face mask hold test tube and microscope in lab

Fauci understands that you thought the pandemic might be over and still want it to be over. "The frustration is understandable," he said. "But I think, if you look at what we are dealing with and what is changing, the virus is changing. It is not a stable virus. It's a virus that over a period of time has evolved into something that's much more transmissible. We have to deal with that. We can't imagine that it's not happening. And, yes, it causes frustration. It might even cause anger. But there is a solution to this. And the solution is vaccination. If we had the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated — and I particularly refer to the 93 million people in this country who are eligible for vaccination who are not getting vaccinated — we would not have the tone of the conversation that you and I are having right now."


Dr. Fauci Says Here's Who Will Get Boosters First

Doctor holding a syringe

Immunocompromised people will get boosters first. It's not a huge amount of people. "Well, we're talking about a relatively small percentage of the adult population, less than 3 percent. It's somewhere around 2.73 percent.," said Dr. Fauci. "The reason for it is really, from a health standpoint, a very good reason, because people who are immune-compromised, those who fall under the congratulate that were delineated by the FDA, such as people with organ transplants on immunosuppressive therapy, people in cancer chemotherapy, immune-suppressive therapy for a number of diseases, naturally occurring immune-compromised, those individuals as a group never got a really good and adequate response to begin with.

So we're not talking about the durability of a good response that tends to wane. We're talking about people who are in harm's way because they're at considerable risk because they are immunocompromised, in whom the vaccine regimen never really got them to the level you wanted to. That's the reason for that additional boost, to try at least, in a proportion of them, to get them up into a safe, protective level."

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Dr. Fauci Said if You Should Worry About Breakthrough Cases

Ill woman lying in bed looking at thermometer suffering from seasonal flu and infectious disease

"The first thing we should do is that clarify the word breakthrough, because that really has quite a negative connotation," said Dr. Fauci. "No vaccine is 100 percent effective. Even vaccines that are really quite effective, like the mRNA vaccines, which are 94 percent to 95 percent effective. But if you look at what that number means, it means effective against clinically apparent disease. So people who get infected despite the fact that they're vaccinated generally fall in the category, with some exceptions, of course, of either being minimally symptomatic or not having any symptoms at all.

They are categorized as a breakthrough infection. The real critical issue of what you want the vaccines to do is to protect you against severe disease that might lead to hospitalization and in some cases death.

So, the fact that you get breakthrough infections, in some respects, if it protects you from getting serious disease, the vaccine is doing exactly what you want it to do. So, that's not saying we can do better. Of course, you would like to see no infections. But that's almost an impossible demand on a vaccine.
Bottom line is that the vaccines are doing what we expect them and want them to do, even in the context of a Delta variant."

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Dr. Fauci Explained Why More Kids Were Being Hospitalized

Nurse with thermometer measures fever on patient child in hospital bed, wearing protective visor and surgical mask.

More kids are being hospitalized. "Is that simply a function of, that is the population, the largest population in America that is still unvaccinated, or is that a function of the Delta variant? Both? How should we see that?," asked William Brangham.

"I think it's both. And there are things about the Delta variant that are concerning," said Dr. Fauci. "So, when you had a high degree of capability of transmission, you had a certain number of people who would get infected, a certain percentage of children would get infected. And you remember back then, a long time ago, seemingly, they would say, oh, children generally don't get infected as much and they don't transmit as much.

We were dealing with a different virus then. Now you have a virus that does a big and better job of infecting anybody much more efficiently than the previous virus, including children. So, relatively speaking, you are seeing more children getting infected.

And just on numbers alone, when more children will get infected, a proportion of them, a small proportion, albeit, are going to wind up with serious disease, getting hospitalized. And that's one of the reason why, maybe the overwhelming reason, why you're seeing children in this particular context of Delta being in the hospital.

One other point, because you want to make sure that people understand everything and we're transparent. When you look at the severity of disease with Delta, and you put children aside and look mostly at adults, there are some studies that indicate that the chance of hospitalization with Delta, at least in adults, is greater than it was with Alpha.

So there may be a difference in severity. We don't have that nailed down yet. The thing that's nailed down is that, clearly, it's better in transmitting. So, you can make an assumption that it could be that the disease might be even more serious in kids, even though we haven't definitely proven that."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, 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, 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