The claim: Dr. Anthony Fauci said there will be 'two Americas' based on COVID-19 vaccination
As the U.S. makes its way to what public health experts estimate is needed to achieve herd immunity – having 80% to 90% of the population immunized against COVID-19 – vaccinations in much of the South, particularly in rural areas, are lagging.
States like Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have less than 40% of adults partially vaccinated and less than 35% fully vaccinated. The average partial and full vaccination rates for adults across the U.S. are at about 67% and 57% as of July 2, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What does this vaccine gap mean for the nation? Some on social media claim Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says it will split the country in two.
USA TODAY has reached out to the Instagram user for comment.
Though there are concerns of deepening regional disparities as a result of vaccination, Fauci's quote isn't declaring some sort of division based on who has been inoculated. Rather, it's referring to how differences in vaccination coverage will be affected by the rising delta variant of the virus.
Poor vaccination coverage means greater vulnerability to COVID-19
Speaking with CNN's Don Lemon on June 30, Fauci described how the more contagious delta variant – now responsible for one in four coronavirus cases nationwide – will cause differences in the number of cases depending on how well-vaccinated an area is.
"When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you’re going to see among undervaccinated regions – be they states, cities or counties – you’re going to see these individual types of blips. It’s almost like it’s going to be two Americas," he told Lemon.
"You’re going to have areas where the vaccine rate is high, where there’s more than 70% of the population has received at least one dose. When you compare that with areas where you might have 35% of the people vaccinated, you clearly have a high risk of seeing these spikes in those selected areas."
Fauci emphasized that such a spike is preventable with vaccination.
COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. don't provide 100% protection against the delta variant, but recent research out of the U.K. looking at Pfizer's shot, and by Moderna, found that they do confer significant immunity. You have to be fully vaccinated, though, for that protection to kick in.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Johnson & Johnson's vaccine may protect against the delta variant as well, because the same U.K. study found AstraZeneca's vaccine, which uses a similar platform to J&J's shot, was highly effective. But further studies are pending.
Our rating: Missing context
Based on our research, we rate the claim Fauci said there will be "two Americas" based on COVID-19 vaccination MISSING CONTEXT, because without additional information it could be misleading. While speaking to CNN's Don Lemon on June 30, Fauci did mention "two Americas," but he was referring to how differences in vaccination coverages across the U.S. will be affected by the rising delta coronavirus variant, not an actual division based on vaccination status.
Our fact-check sources:
University of Missouri Health Care, accessed July 2, COVID-19 Vaccine Key to Reaching 'Herd Immunity
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2, COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States
Suburban Black Man, June 30, Twitter post
Public Health England, May 22, Vaccines highly effective against B.1.617.2 variant after 2 doses
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Fauci warns of COVID-19 rise, not creation of '2 Americas'