WH: Focus on vaccine as 500k death toll nears

The White House COVID Task Force remains focused on vaccines as the death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000 Monday. (Feb. 22)

Video Transcript

JEFF ZIENTS: Now, to continue to inform our efforts around vaccine confidence, over the next two weeks, the White House, along with CDC and HHS, will host a series of listening sessions with key stakeholder groups. These meetings will be led by Dr. Nunez-Smith, who is leading our equity work. These conversations will focus on how to strengthen vaccine confidence and how to eliminate barriers that under-served communities are facing to vaccinations.

ANTHONY FAUCI: It's universal here that we know that, at this point in time, it is unclear whether, when you get vaccinated and you might be protected from clinical disease, which is the primary endpoint of the vaccine studies, that you could conceivably be infected, have virus in your nasopharynx, and, at that same time, have no symptoms, which is the reason why we recommend and say you still need to wear a mask.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: I will say that we've already started to come out with some guidance that demonstrates a difference if you've been vaccinated versus if you haven't. For-- so for example, if you've been exposed and you've been fully vaccinated, two doses, there is no longer a need to quarantine after you've been exposed. So we are starting to emerge with some guidance in this area. And more will be forthcoming.

I would echo exactly what Dr. Fauci said. We are working on rolling out a lot of vaccines for a lot of people. And yet we still have a lot of disease, 66,000 cases a day. So what we might be proposing in terms of guidance will, really, likely be at the individual level and not at the community level.

JEFF ZIENTS: I will tell you that people are interested in taking the vaccine in large numbers for the same reason people are interested in taking the vaccine for MMR and for the flu, because they want to live. They don't want to be sick. And they don't want to die. And that is a very important benefit that people don't often talk about quite as much, but that the public, we believe, clearly understands.