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Fauci Promotes COVID Booster Shots at Press Club Event

December 22, 2021 by Dan McCue
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Dec. 1, 2021.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci visited the National Press Club on Tuesday using its final virtual newsmaker event of the year to urge Americans to get a booster shot ahead of the holidays.

“Our booster vaccine regimens work,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He went on to tell club President Lisa Nicole Matthews, who moderated the event, that “as you go from fully vaccinated to fully vaccinated plus boosted, you can see the risk of severe disease become extremely low compared to the unvaccinated.”

Fauci admitted that the administration’s message on vaccines is highly repetitive, but he said following the advice of informed health experts is the only way the nation will return to a state of relative normalcy in the near term.

That means getting vaccinated, getting a booster and then minimizing the risk of infection by wearing face masks indoors and in outdoor settings where people are bound to congregate.

Do that, Fauci said, “and over time we feel confident that we will get this under control.”

Toward that end the National Press Club announced Wednesday that effective immediately it is reviving its requirement that members wear masks when they enter the club on 14th street.

The club had most recently been following a policy of masks recommended but not required, but it said it is revising its policy to comply with District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser’s recent order imposing indoor mask requirements throughout the city through at least Jan. 31, 2022.

“As in the past, members, staff and guests will be expected to wear masks at all times unless actively eating or drinking. When no longer actively eating or drinking, masks should be restored,” the club said in its announcement.

Speaking directly to the recent surge in the omicron variant, Fauci said the early evidence suggests it is less harmful than earlier variants, but also urged caution.

“We don’t want to hang our hat on that for the simple reasons that it might be due to the fact that there are so many people in South Africa who’ve been previously infected with delta and beta that they have a degree of residual immunity that’s protecting them against severity of disease,” he said.

A study released Wednesday by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said South Africans who catch the omicron variant are 80% less likely to be hospitalized compared with other strains of the virus.

In addition, when compared to delta infections in South Africa between April and November, omicron infections are associated with a 70% lower risk of severe disease, study authors Nicole Walter and Cheryl Cohen wrote.

The results of the study were first reported by Bloomberg on Wednesday. The full study is being submitted to a preprint medical publication, MedRxiv, according to the report.

Bloomberg said Walter and Cohen adjusted for various factors that could influence the results, including age, gender and whether the cases were known reinfections. 

When it came to the severity of illness after hospitalization, they also adjusted for the presence of other illnesses and prior immunization, the report said.

During his virtual Press Club appearance, Fauci said those who have already received a booster are in the best position to enjoy a healthy, COVID-free holiday season.

“Vaccination and booster is the biggest thing you can do … And when you do travel, make sure that when you are in congregate settings, like a crowded airport, that you keep your mask on at all times,” he said, adding, “vaccinated and boosted people … should feel very comfortable in getting together and enjoying a holiday meal or a holiday get together.”

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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