Mandated coronavirus vaccination in US unlikely, Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on Tuesday he doesn’t think an eventual coronavirus vaccine would be mandated for the public.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see a mandating of vaccines, particularly for the general public,” Fauci said in an interview with Healthline.

Sometimes in the health sector, like in the hospital at the National Institutes of Health, for instance, someone without the flu vaccine would not be allowed on a given ward, he said.

But, he noted, “you would never mandate, at least I do not think you would, I’d pretty be surprised if you mandated it [the coronavirus vaccine] for any element of the general public.”

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump administration officials are set to defend the federal government’s response to the coronavirus crisis at the hearing hosted by a House panel calling for a national plan to contain the virus. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Dr. E Hahn Le, senior director of medical affairs with Healthline, questioned a contingency plan for Americans who may refuse the eventual vaccine.

“They have every right to refuse the vaccine, I don’t think you need a contingency plan,” Fauci said. “If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, then there’s nothing you can do about that, you cannot force someone to take a vaccine.”

According to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, one in three Americans will opt out of getting a coronavirus vaccine if and when it becomes available. While 60% of respondents said they will get vaccinated if one becomes available to them, 35% said they won’t, despite a worldwide COVID-19 death toll topping 780,000, according to the results released Friday. The remaining 5% of respondents said they were unsure.

Also, in a separate Gallup poll, more than a third of Americans said they would not get a COVID-19 vaccine right now, even if it was free and FDA-approved.

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During the Healthline interview, Fauci also said an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Contol and Prevention, will be responsible for making a sound decision as to who should be prioritized if a safe and effective vaccine becomes available. Fauci said the team will be complemented by another committee put together by the National Academy of Medicine.

Fauci said he remains “cautiously optimistic” in an eventual coronavirus vaccine because preliminary Phase I studies induced a level of neutralizing antibodies in Phase I volunteers that is “equivalent, if not better than, what you see with the convalescent plasma of people who have actually recovered.”

“That’s not a guarantee but it’s a good predictor that things will go well.”

As for Russia’s claim about having developed a safe and effective vaccine for the disease, Fauci echoed his previous comments when he said he “seriously doubts” the country’s claims.

“We have to be careful when we hear from Russia or China or anyplace else that they have a vaccine that they know works,” Fauci said. “They may have a product that they’re willing to take the risk to give it to people without necessarily showing yet that it’s effective or that it’s safe…”

Fox News’ Daniella Genovese and Paul Best contributed to this report.

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