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Dr Anthony Fauci has encouraged vaccinated Americans to “go the extra mile” by wearing a mask in areas with low vaccination rates, as the Covid-19 hospitalisation and death rates climb among people refusing the jab.
The encouragement came on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday after host Chuck Todd mentioned that Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate for the entire country. Mr Todd wanted to know if the vaccination rate should encourage vaccinated Americans to still wear a mask in those areas.
“I think there would be a good reason to do that because as we’ve said so often that vaccines are not, even as good as they are and highly effective, nothing is 100 per cent,” Dr Fauci, Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor on Covid-19, said.
“And if you put yourself in an environment in which you have a high level of viral dynamics and a very low level of vaccine you might want to go the extra step and say, ‘When I’m in that area where there’s a considerable degree of viral circulation, I might want to go the extra mile, to be cautious enough to make sure that I get the extra added level of protection even though the vaccines themselves are highly effective.”
It was noted that nearly 10,000 deaths from Covid-19 happened in June, and Dr Fauci said a majority of those deaths were likely “avoidable and preventable” had people received one of the available vaccines.
“If you look at the number of deaths, about 99.2 per cent of them are unvaccinated about 0.8 per cent are vaccinated,” Dr Fauci said.
“No vaccine is perfect, but when you talk about the avoidability of hospitalization and deaths, Chuck, it’s really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable,” he added.
Health officials have raised alarms as the highly infectious delta variant becomes more prevalent in the United States.
In May, the World Health Organization declared it the “variant of concern” given how quickly it’s spread around the globe, causing an increase to hospitalisation rates and death tolls.
The available vaccines were still effective against the variant, but Dr Fauci said they were not foolproof in preventing infection.
“Obviously, there’s gonna be some people because of the variability among people and their response to vaccine, that you’ll see some who are vaccinated and still get into trouble and get hospitalised and die, but the overwhelming proportion of people who get into trouble are the unvaccinated which is the reason why we say this is really entirely avoidable and preventable,” he said.
President Joe Biden set the goal for 70 per cent of American adults to receive at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 4 July. But the American public fell short of that goal with about 67 per cent of those 18 years and older having received at least one dose of a vaccine.
At least 18 states reached Mr Biden’s goal, but other states, specifically one’s in the conservative South and Midwest, have struggled to convince residents to receive a vaccine.
In Mississippi, for example, just 30 per cent of residents were fully vaccinated against the novel virus. Several other Southern states also had less than 40 per cent of their population fully vaccinated.
Dr Fauci implored for the public to cast aside ideology and political differences for the sake of protecting everyone against Covid-19.
“We’re dealing with a historic situation with this pandemic, and we do have the tools to counter it, so for goodness’ sake, put aside all those differences and realize the common enemy is the virus,” he said.