An increasingly frustrated Dr Anthony Fauci expressed his puzzlement on Sunday that Republican voters remain sceptical of getting one of the three approved Covidvaccines, saying it marks a “disturbing” trend.
Dr Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, urged former president Donald Trump in an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday to promote the vaccine to his supporters.
“It would be very helpful for the effort for that to happen. I’m very surprised by the number of Republicans who say they won’t get vaccinated,” Dr Fauci said.
Recent polling has found that a strong plurality of people who voted for Mr Trump in last November’s elections say they will not get vaccinated for the virus that has killed more than half a million Americans in the last 12 months.
Just 30 per cent of Trump voters said they have been vaccinated or want to get one, compared to 47 per cent who said they would not, a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found. Among Biden voters, 58 per cent said they have gotten the vaccine or would get one while just 10 per cent said they would not. Follow Trump and Biden news live: President speaks out on Cuomo
Mr Trump has never opposed the vaccine. In fact, one of his main campaign pitches to voters ahead of his November matchup with Joe Biden was his administration’s work to fast-track development and mass production of Covid vaccine candidates at record speed.
The ex-president released a statement last week claiming credit for the vaccine rollout as more than 2m Americans per day receive doses.
“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!” Mr Trump said in his statement.
But such appeals for political credit have not persuaded Republican voters that the vaccines themselves are worth getting.
Mr Trump being more vocal about his support for Covid vaccines and their effectiveness “would make all the difference in the world,” Dr Fauci suggested on Sunday.
“He’s a widely popular person among Republicans,” he said of Mr Trump.
Dr Fauci then lamented: “I just don’t get it, Chris, why they don’t want to get vaccinated.”
Fox News primetime host Laura Ingraham shot back on Twitter later on Sunday that Dr Fauci’s repeated emphasis on continuing to follow health and safety protocols despite receiving a vaccine has disinclined GOP voters to getting the jab themselves.
“Perhaps people would be more enthusiastic about vaccines if Team Doom would give us reason to believe that the vaccines will allow things to return to normal. But they refuse to do so,” Ms Ingraham tweeted.
While Dr Fauci has billed all three Covid vaccines as “highly efficacious” and underscored their 100 per cent effectiveness at preventing deaths and hospitalisations, conservatives have latched onto the Biden administration’s continued caution that things may not go completely back to normal for the next several months.
Last month Dr Fauci said Americans may still be asked to wear masks in public into 2022.
But he has made clear that despite the risks still posed by the virus and its variants, inoculation via the approved vaccines is the safest way to avoid Covid’s health risks.
“We’ve got to dissociate political persuasion from common sense, no-brainer public health things,” Dr Fauci said in a separate interview on Sunday with NBC.
Previous vaccines have “rescued” Americans from smallpox, polio, and the measles, he said.
“What is the problem here?” he said.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies