Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday ‘there’s no doubt in my mind’ that children should be required to wear masks when returning to school in the fall.
‘There is a problem with children [getting COVID],’ the nation’s top immunologist told NBC News’ Meet the Press.
‘You’ve got to separate and make sure you get the facts,’ he continued. ‘The likelihood of a child getting serious disease compared to an elderly person or someone with an underlying condition is absolutely less, but less doesn’t mean zero.’
‘All you need to do is do a survey of the pediatric hospitals throughout the country, and you’re seeing a considerable number of young people who are not only infected, but who are seriously ill,’ Fauci told host Chuck Todd.
‘These kids are getting sick. We’ve really got to make sure we protect them,’ he said.
It is still extremely rare for a minor to die from contracting COVID-19 – even with the Delta variant.
Of the 43 states who reported children morbidity data in the pandemic, minors made up only 0-0.26 per cent of the total COVID-19 deaths as of July 26, 2021. Seven of the states reported zero coronavirus-related children deaths.
Some doctors are claiming the hospital systems are becoming ‘overwhelmed’ with childhood cases of COVID-19, but the Department of Health and Human Services shows data to the contrary.
In Florida, the state with the second-highest number of new cases, a hospital capacity data set shows only 46 pediatric patients were admitted to hospitals state-wide with confirmed COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the total in the state to 135.
Texas has the most number of children in the hospital with COVID, with a total of 142 as of Tuesday. Florida comes in second.
Fauci went on to recommend what he says is the safest way for children to return to school in the fall, which is by all those working and attending and visiting the school to mask up.
‘There are two things you do with children who are not vaccinated,’ he explained. ‘You surround them with those who can be vaccinated, whoever they are, teachers, personnel in the school, anyone, get them vaccinated. So, protect the kids with a shield of vaccinated people.’
‘For the kids who can’t get vaccinated,’ he proposed, ‘that’s the reason why we’re having a strong recommendation that, in the schools, everybody should wear a mask, whether or not you’re vaccinated.’
‘We’ve got to protect the children.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the only way to protect children from coronavirus when returning to school is to make sure the students, staff, teachers and visitors are all wearing masks at all times
Children under the age of 12 are still not approved to get the coronavirus vaccine – and all three vaccines administered in the U.S. are only under emergency use authorization for the eligible.
The National Institutes of Health immunologist said one of the dangers of allowing the Delta variant to spread is that other mutations of the virus can emerge, which he said could end up being even more harmful to vaccinated individuals.
‘There’s a tenet that everybody knows in virology: a virus will not mutate unless you allow it to replicate,’ Fauci said in his Sunday morning interview.
‘Fortunately for us, the vaccines do quite well against Delta, particularly in protecting you from severe disease, but if you give the virus the chance to continue to change, you’re leading to a vulnerability that we might get a worse variant, and then that will impact not only the unvaccinated, that will impact the vaccinated because that variant could evade the protection of the vaccine,’ he added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance last month that cities with high transmission rates and breakthrough cases in the vaccinated should return to wearing masks indoors regardless of inoculation status.
Fauci said he is hoping the coronavirus vaccine will receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the ‘next few weeks’.
‘I’m almost certain – in fact, I am certain – that as soon as the FDA fully approves the vaccines that are now under emergency use authorization –’ Fauci started but was cut short.
‘I don’t mean to interrupt, but when is that?’ Todd interjected during his Sunday morning interview.
‘I hope, I don’t predict, but I hope that it will be within the next few weeks. I hope it’s within the month of August,’ Fauci responded.
‘If that’s the case,’ he continued, ‘you’re going to see the empowerment of local enterprises giving mandates – that could be colleges, universities, places of business, a whole variety. And I strongly support that.’
Fauci, the nation’s top immunologist and medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said more needs to be done now to ‘persuade’ Americans to get the vaccine, after the White House announced on Friday that of the whole U.S. population, 50 per cent have been inoculated against COVID-19.
Fauci told NBC’s Chuck Todd (left) that he ‘hopes’ the COVID-19 vaccines will get full Food and Drug Administration approval by the end of August
The latest comments come after the White House announced on Friday that the U.S. reached 50% vaccination rates among the whole population – including children
Vaccination rates have severely declined and plateaued over the summer as hesitancy among certain communities has prevailed
WATCH: Dr. Anthony Fauci says he hopes that the full vaccine approval by the FDA is “within the next few weeks.” #MTP
Fauci: “If that’s the case, you are going to see the empowerment of local enterprises giving [vaccine] mandates. … And I strongly support that.” pic.twitter.com/txWQYs35tQ
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 8, 2021
‘The time has come is we’ve got to go the extra step to get people vaccinated,’ Fauci said. ‘You want to persuade them, that’s good.’
‘And I believe that some people on their own, once it gets approved as a full approval, will go ahead and get vaccinated. But for those who do not want, I believe mandates at a local level need to be done,’ he said.
There are three vaccines under FDA’s emergency use authorization – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
The special authorization is given to vaccines and medicines by the agency under the Department of Health and Human Services during times of national emergencies – like a pandemic.
The first vaccine was administered in December and for months was only available to adults, and in some cases those 16-18. In May, the shots were opened up to Americans 12 and older.
It remains that anyone under the age of 12 cannot receive a vaccine.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, however, said last week that the vaccine should be approved for use in all ages some time during the upcoming school year.
Cyrus Shahpar, the White House’s COVID data director, announced in a Friday tweet: ‘50% of Americans (all ages) are now fully vaccinated. Keep going!’
All three COVID-19 vaccines administered in the U.S. are still under emergency use authorization and have not received full approval from the FDA
Some states, including southern states, have higher hesitancy toward the vaccine. Fauci says a lot of that will go away when FDA approval is granted
The latest figures means more than 165 million people have received either the two doses required with the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or the one-and-done Johnson & Johnson shot.
‘Friday just in: +821K doses reported administered, including 565K newly vaccinated,’ Shahpar tweeted. ‘7-day average of newly vaccinated is up 11% from last week and 44% over past 2 weeks.’
The threshold of half of all adult Americans fully vaccinated was reached in late May.
Biden set a July 4 goal to get at least one dose into the arms of 70 per cent of U.S. adults. That goal was reached nearly a month late on August 2.