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Dr. Fauci Says Here's When Kids May Get Vaccines

There is a “a danger for the emergence of other variants.”
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

What will it take for the unvaccinated to get their vaccines? More kids getting sick and hospitalized with COVID? That's a question that's no longer a hypothetical, say virus experts, as hospitalization rates for kids with COVID rise. Targeting worried parents—and America at large—Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke with the New York Times' science reporter Apoorva Mandavilli today at a New York Times online event. Read on for six key pieces of advice and a big warning—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Dr. Fauci Said "Anything is Possible" When it Comes to New Variants

Medical staff work in the intensive care ward for COVID-19 patients

"Anything is possible," said Dr. Fauci, when asked about a variant that may be worse than Delta. "I would be surprised if you had a virus that was more dangerous for one age group versus another, but we've seen that in the past. So I wouldn't be surprised if it occurred. One of the things that is a danger for the emergence of other variants, is that when you have, as we do in this country about 75 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated, who are not getting vaccinated, that gives the virus ample opportunity to circulate and replicate. And as we know, viruses don't mutate unless they replicate. And if you allow the virus to replicate, you're giving it ample opportunity to mutate. And if you get the right constellation of mutations, then you get a new variant. And that's what we're concerned about."

Is he worried about one that might defeat the vaccines, asked Mandavilli.

"I worry about a lot of things," said Dr. Fauci. "Yes. And, and one of them is a variant that would be of it evading our vaccine. Fortunately, we haven't seen that the higher the level of antibodies against the original prototype virus, the greater protection you get against all the variants and that's been consistent, which is a good thing, because remember the vaccines that we're taking now—that you and I have gotten— were not against Alpha or Beta or Delta. It was against the original prototype. And yet when you get vaccinated, you get high enough response that you get protection against all the variants. So that's what I'm hoping for, that even as we get new variants, the protection induced by the vaccine, plus a booster will continue to give us good protection."


Dr. Fauci Said There's No Doubt There is a "Diminution in Effectiveness" for the Vaccines As Time Passes

Healthcare worker at home visit

"We already know from the large number of people in the country who have been vaccinated, that the vaccine does work against Delta," said Dr. Fauci. "Delta is really quite more transmissible in its sufficiency of transmissibility than the Alpha variant and other variants that we've dealt with. If you look at the efficacy against infection and mild to moderate disease, as well as the slightest hint that—at least in this country, about diminution in effectiveness—is no doubt that the effectiveness is coming down. What we can't decipher is is it waning immunity in general? Is it the Delta variant or it's a combination of both? If you look at the kinetics of the decline, at least a part of it is true waning immunity, because we were seeing the waning even before Delta became dominant. Now that Delta is dominant the diminution and protection in this country, but particularly in Israel—I think Israel is a good barometer of where we are going to be soon because Israel has always been a month or more ahead of us in the rollout of the vaccine program, in the kinetics of their outbreak. And now with their booster program, they always have been and are a bit ahead of us. So if you look at what's going on in Israel, it looks like there is a significant diminution in effectiveness against anything, including Delta. And that's the reason why their booster program has been implemented. And it has shown very favorably that it induces. And reconstitutes the response to Delta, very, very well. In fact, the third boost brings up the response well above what the response to two doses was."

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Dr. Fauci Said Here's When We Could Have a Vaccine for Kids Under 12

Child with face mask getting vaccinated

"Traditionally, and to this day, since children are vulnerable—more so than adults—whenever you're dealing with vulnerable populations, safety becomes a very critical issue. So we now have approval at least of the Pfizer vaccine for children, 12 years of age and older. The question that everyone is asking is what about 11 years of age and younger? The clinical studies have been going on now for quite a while over the last several weeks to months, in what we call age de-escalation—we go from 11 to nine, nine to six, six to two, and then six months to two years. The data that will be available for the FDA to review will be a little bit discordant between Pfizer and Moderna—the Pfizer data will probably be ready sometime at the end of September, the beginning of October and the Moderna data a bit later, the end of October, the beginning of November. At that point, the data are submitted to the FDA, very likely to apply for an emergency use authorization. If the FDA deems that this is an emergency situation for children,—I don't want to prejudge them, but many people believe it is an emergency situation for children—if they deem it a applicable to an EUA, the EUA could come some few weeks or so following the application to the FDA, which means at least for Pfizer, it could be, as we get into November towards the end of the fall, the beginning of the winter, and maybe a few weeks, couple to three weeks, a little bit later foe Moderna. …It becomes a regulatory decision as to whether or not they deem that the risk benefit is definitely worth the benefit over the risk. Hopefully that will be the case because we all want to see children who are in that younger age group get vaccinated."

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Dr. Fauci Said The Risk for Kids of the Virus is Worse Than Any "Exceedingly Low" Risk of Vaccination

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

"One asks, well, is the risk of COVID to the children worth the risk of the vaccine," says Dr. Fauci. "The risk of a vaccine is exceedingly low. True in general, children do not have as likely a chance of getting a severe outcome as adults and those with underlying conditions. But all you need to do right now is go throughout the country, particularly in the Southern states, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, places like that, and go to the pediatric hospitals and you will see the beds are filled with children who have COVID-19 serious enough to have them require hospitalization. So again, although statistically, it isn't as bad as an adult, you do not want your child to get infected. Not only because it could be serious disease, but because there may be long lasting effects of COVID-19—things that we refer to as Long COVID, which means after you clear the virus and are apparently free of disease, there is a lingering of symptomatology, fatigue, muscle aches, sleep disturbances, things like that. So it's not a good thing, get infected with this virus. And that's the reason why we feel strongly that ultimately we should get everyone vaccinated against it."

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Dr. Fauci Said "Masks are Effective in Preventing Infection"

Woman in a restaurant with face protection mask kn95.

If Dr. Fauci was a parent faced with a school that was anti-mask-mandates, he says, "What I would do is I would probably push to overcome the resistance to a mask mandate, the way many mothers and fathers are doing in Florida, defying the prohibition of a mask mandate. That's what I would direct my energy towards because we really do—w know masks work. It is really, really unfortunate that there's a pushback on the part of some to mask mandate. The data that keeps coming out, the most recent study from Bangladesh showed overwhelmingly something that we already know: that masks are effective in preventing infection."

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Dr. Fauci Said Ventilation is "Critical"

Air purifier in modern office for fresh air and removal dust

Eat outdoors if you can, students. "It's critical. It's critical. In fact, to the extent possible right now, we're coming to the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall, the weather in many, if not most locations in this country, uh, with a tempered climate that we have, you could probably go well into the end of October and be outside. So to the extent that you can do that, that would be great." So get outside, 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