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Just how badly did vaccine failure surprise Fauci?
This badly: on May 20 (May!) he said the US might be able to eliminate Sars-Cov-2 entirely. Three months later he was begging for boosters double-quick. True story.
Let’s go to the videotape!
On May 20, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci (People’s Sexiest Man Alive for 12 straight years) took time from his busy day for an interview with the Washington Post.
Beyond its cringe-inducing title - “Coronavirus: Leadership During Crisis” - the interview is noteworthy because it came at the moment of peak overconfidence in the mRNA vaccines.
Sars-Cov-2 had basically disappeared in Israel, which was the first country to begin a mass mRNA vaccination campaign. With about 80 percent of adults vaccinated, new cases were down 99.5 percent from their January peak and still falling. Deaths had dropped nearly as much.
On Twitter and off, the word “miracle” was getting thrown around a lot. Slate and the Atlantic had turned their attention to the vitally important question of which vaccine was the coolest (Pfizer! Pfizer was the coolest!)
And the only thing standing in the way of herrrrd immunity were the mouth-breathing Trump fans (and some African-Americans who remembered Tuskegee, but no one blamed them) who refused to submit to the miracle.
No matter, though. The vaccines were that good!
Dr. Fauci can speak for himself:
Q: Vaccinations are rising, but is there a concern about a resurgence in the latter part of the year as the weather gets colder? And how much of this hinges upon what our understanding is of how long these vaccines are effective?
DR. FAUCI: Well, I don't think we should be that concerned right now about how long they're effective. I think they will be effective long enough that we will get to the point where we are not going to be necessarily worrying about a surge…
[as] highly effective as these vaccines are and you get a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated, the chances of there being a surge are extraordinarily low.
But what about boosters, Dr. F.?
Boosters? Boosters? We don’t need no stinking boosters!
Q: One thing that you've talked about is that people might need a booster shot within a year or so of being vaccinated. What is the timeline right now for when people might need to start getting that?
A: …I really don't think it's accurate to say that we will need boosters X number of months from now. We may not need it for quite a while… Will this be a situation where over the years, we may need intermittent boosts? Again, you want to be prepared for that, Yasmeen, but you don't know definitely if we'll need it…-
But Fauci wasn’t done with his answer. He had a prediction to make.
A: When you have an infectious disease and you want to, in essence, address it appropriately, there are three possibilities. One, you could eradicate it. That's a very high bar because we've only eradicated one human infectious disease in our entire history, and that is smallpox, with a highly successful vaccination campaign.
The next thing is you can eliminate, and you generally do that by having certain countries, usually with good vaccination programs, essentially eliminate the presence of a particular pathogen in society. We've done that with polio in the United States. We've done that with measles in the United States and other developed nations.
So, that's called elimination, and the other is control. You have a very, very low level in the community, not enough to be a public health issue but enough to know that you haven't completely eliminated it. We don't know where we're going to be with SARS-CoV-2 and with COVID-19. I would hope it would be much closer to elimination than just control. That's going to depend entirely on the success, which I believe we're going in the right direction, of the vaccine program…
At this point I think we’d all settle for zero efficacy, zero long-term side effects.
Of course, the vaccine fanatics (including the ones in the White House) will note that the United States didn’t duplicate Israel’s success at vaccinating nearly its entire adult population.
I’m a terrible Jew today, I shouldn’t be working (and I usually do observe Yom Kippur seriously), but under the circumstances I hope whoever is in charge gives me a pass. Also my temple won’t let me go to services in-person since I’m not vaccinated, because science!
Anyway the Haftarah from Isaiah is what really matters.
Hope you’re having an easy fast.