Fauci says he’s ‘very heartened’ by GOP politicians urging constituents to get vaccinated

NIAID director calls for more public comments from GOP figures

John Bowden
Sunday 25 July 2021 20:25 BST
Dr Anthony Fauci speaks at a congressional hearing.
Dr Anthony Fauci speaks at a congressional hearing.
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Dr Anthony Fauci is calling for more efforts from GOP leaders in areas where vaccination rates are low, amid growing frustrations around the country regarding the persistence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview with CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director applauded comments from Gov Kay Ivey of Alabama and Rep Steve Scalise of Louisiana in recent days, both of whom urged their constituents to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

Their statements come as a divide is growing around the county, with some states reporting high vaccination rates and others still struggling to get even half of their eligible populations vaccinated.

Concerns about that divide are only growing as the Delta variant continues to spread in the US; the new strain of Covid-19 poses a severe danger to the unvaccinated, particularly those who are immunocompromised in some way, while also a risk of infection for vaccinated Americans though the danger of severe symptoms is far lower for vaccinated individuals.

“She has every right to be frustrated”, Dr Fauci said on Sunday in response to a clip of Ms Ivey complaining that unvaccinated Alabamans were “letting us down”.

"I was very heartened to hear people like Steve Scalise come out and say, ‘hey we need to get vaccinated.’ Even Governor Desantis in Florida is saying the same thing”, Dr Fauci continued.

Messaging about vaccinations continues to be extremely mixed in the Republican Party. Some prominent leaders have embraced the calls for Americans to get vaccinated being issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and broader Biden administration, while others have lambasted the administration for simple efforts to raise vaccination rates, including a much-maligned door-to-door educational volunteer effort, or even speculated about the safety, necessity or efficiency of the vaccines themselves.

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whose served under former President Donald Trump and is now running for governor of Arkansas, also penned an op-ed over the weekend in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette explaining her personal choice to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

"Based on the advice of my doctor, I determined that the benefits of getting vaccinated outweighed any potential risks,” she wrote.

About 57 per cent of the total US population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 49.2 per cent are fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Delta variant, meanwhile, has been detected in all 50 states and is believed to be a primary factor behind rising case rates around the nation. Case rates began rising again in early July, and the US seven-day average of new cases per day is now at 51,209.

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