Dr. Anthony Fauci was dubbed an “American hero” on Thursday as he accompanied first lady Jill Biden for a photo op of children being vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Did you meet our American hero?” Biden asked as she introduced Fauci to the staff of the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., and to children gathered for their shots, according to The Hill.
The photo op’s light tone was briefly interrupted when the first lady was asked about reports that she had some profane things to say about Vice President Kamala Harris after a 2019 Democratic presidential debate in which Harris — a candidate at the time — took President Joe Biden to task over his past positions on busing.
“My goodness, that was two years ago. We have moved on from that. So, now we are here to do vaccinations. We have hope. Look at all of the people who have come. They’re going to tell other people in the communities,” Jill Biden said.
“And we have Dr. Fauci here which is — who doesn’t love Dr. Fauci?” the first lady added. “I think everybody in America loves Dr. Fauci.”
During the event, Fauci said there should be enough vaccines to provide shots to all American children by the end of the year. “It’s coming soon,” he said.
Fauci noted that efforts are underway to address the confusion that accompanied last week’s guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said vaccinated American adults need not wear masks in most settings.
“Unfortunately, some people interpreted it as that everybody can get rid of their masks, which is not the case,” Fauci said. “It was speaking only about people who are vaccinated. But we’re clarifying that now. I think we’re getting on the right track.”
Fauci said the public is simply not paying sufficient attention to the new guidelines, according to NBC News.
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“People either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it. They are feeling that we’re saying: ‘You don’t need the mask anymore.’ That’s not what the CDC said,” Fauci said. “They said: If you are vaccinated, you can feel safe — that you will not get infected either outdoors or indoors. It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks.”
“We know that the vaccine durability of the efficacy lasts at least six months, and likely considerably more, but I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so after getting the primary,” Fauci said.
He added that he did not think boosters would be linked to any one variant of the virus that has emerged.
“Instead of having to play whack-a-mole with each individual variant and develop a booster that’s variant-specific, it is likely that you could just keep boosting against the wild type, and wind up getting a good enough response that you wouldn’t have to worry about the variants,” Fauci said.
On Thursday, however, he told NBC something a little different.
“The bottom line is, we don’t know if or when we will need booster shots,” he said. “But it would be foolish not to prepare for the eventuality that we might need it.”
Drugmaker Pfizer said it expects booster shots will be required.
“Until we see a reduction in SARS-CoV-2 circulation and Covid-19 disease, we think it is likely that a third dose, a boost of our vaccine, within 12 months after vaccine administration, will likely be needed to help provide protection,” the company said in a statement provided to NBC.
“We are also prepared to update the vaccine quickly should variants emerge that escape current vaccine protection.”