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A Few Words from Dr. Anthony Fauci

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jeastridge jeastridge, BSN, RN (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

Help is on the way but the cavalry is not here yet.

This article is based on excerpts from an interview with Dr. Fauci on November 16, 2020, for the annual meeting of the American Medical Informatics Association.

A Few Words from Dr. Anthony Fauci

A Few Words from Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Fauci is a world-renowned physician. As the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he is an expert on the COVID-19 pandemic. He has served the American public for over 50 years, working with the National Institutes of Health. He was recently named Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. “This distinction is only given to top health leaders who have demonstrated a firm commitment to nursing and to transforming health policy.” (American Academy of Nursing, August 2020)

This week, he was interviewed for the American Medical Informatics Association’s (AMIA) annual meeting which took place online. He was interviewed by the head of the National Library of Medicine, Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan, and the AMIA President, Dr. Eneida Mendonca. 

Here are some of the comments excerpted from the interview: 

(Not verbatim quotes)

1.  What stands out to you about COVID-19?

This outbreak is like none other. Our country and the world has been threatened by several pandemics: 1918, 1957, 1968, 2009, Ebola, Zika. Pandemics happen. But no other virus has behaved like this one. 40% of those who contract it are asymptomatic. Of those with symptoms, 80% recover without medical intervention. But then there are the 15-20% who get sick enough to need treatment and some die. We simply need more data to understand this disease better. 

It is important that we follow those who have been sick long term so that we understand the long-term effects of COVID-19. Why is it that some people stay sick for a long time? We need to know more about that and pursue an understanding of the pathophysiology of how the virus affects the human body. It might be that a registry will help us follow patients better long term. 

2.  What do we need to teach medical professionals that are coming up?

- Be prepared. Pandemics happen.

- Preparation keeps us from chasing after a pandemic which is generally not a good formula for success.

- We need to work to understand the role of science in public health. Science will ultimately help us get out by helping us understand the pathophysiology and by discovering a vaccine.

- Teach science as early as you can. For those who have the inclination, it is so exciting to study science that it is almost love at first sight. Maybe learning science early is like learning a second language early, If young people are so inclined, they get smitten.

3.  How do you do research during a pandemic?

We must continue to do research because we have to be careful to do more good than harm. Research and double-blind, case-controlled studies can protect us all. Randomized case-controlled trials are the ethically sound way to get to answers. 

When we first heard about COVID-19, it was January 9, 2020. On January 10, we talked with Moderna and now they have the vaccine that is 94% effective. We are very happy about that. We would have been happy with 75% but we got 94%! Ten years ago, it would have taken 3 years to get a vaccine. But because of the technology and research we were already doing, that was already in place, we were able to come out with a vaccine so quickly. Genomic epidemiology helped us trace the origin of the virus that hit New York back to Europe and Italy. Because of science, we knew where to focus our efforts. 

4.  What are some challenges that we face?

We need to rebuild our public health system.

We need to strengthen the global health surveillance systems that are interconnected and transparent to the world. One thing is for sure: microbes will emerge. 75% of those that afflict humans are zoonotic ( transmitted to humans from animals). We cannot prevent that but we can be ready.

5.  How do we combat the mistrust of science?

We must be:

  • Transparent
  • Consistent
  • Honest—like apple pie and motherhood.

What is harmful is something called “false equivalencies.” For example, back when we were working on HIV, a group of scientists and Berkeley came out saying that AIDS was not caused by HIV but by behavior. Because they had credentials, it sounded like they knew what they were talking about but they were wrong. We were speaking the truth. People hearing both sides in the news were confused.  This is hard.

6.  How do we help people understand the safety and efficacy of the vaccine?

This is an important point. The public needs to understand that the system to approve vaccines cannot be manipulated by business. It is impossible. The data are analyzed independently. It is not beholden to ANYONE. Statisticians look at it and either stop or declare it effective. It is really important to understand that there is no way for a company to manipulate this part of the process. There is also an advisory committee to the FDA. After that all the data is open to the public so that scientists can examine it. The idea that we can “sneak” something through is an impossibility. 

The speed did not compromise reliability. It reflects the new technology and the amount of money we put into it. We were doing things in parallel as opposed to sequentially. Normally, you prove it works before you produce. In this case, we took a financial risk and vaccines started production while still in the process of approval. This is because, as a society, we decided it was important enough to do it this way. 

7.  What are the take-home messages?

- Wear a mask. Do the common sense things to protect yourself and others.

- Wash your hands, stay at a safe distance, don’t gather in groups.

- Skip large groupings this year. We have exciting, impressive vaccine data. Help is on the way but the cavalry is not here yet. We need to take this knowledge and let it motivate us to stay the course. This is not the time for people to travel to large family gatherings. This is a tough time. 

- Small gatherings this year so 2021 will be a great year!

Help is on the way but the cavalry is not here yet.  Anthony Fauci

Joy is a Faith Community Nurse with 35+ years of experience in a variety of fields in nursing.

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39 Comment(s)

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Thanks for posting this, Joy!!

Dr. Fauci has been the voice of wisdom throughout this Pandemic - one of the only voices I trust when it comes to COVID.

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

10 minutes ago, tnbutterfly - Mary said:

Thanks for posting this, Joy!!

Dr. Fauci has been the voice of wisdom throughout this Pandemic - one of the only voices I trust when it comes to COVID.

It was a great interview! And his delivery is calm, compassionate and so knowledgeable. Joy

 

cynical-RN, BSN

Specializes in ICU. Has 10 years experience.

8 hours ago, tnbutterfly - Mary said:

Thanks for posting this, Joy!!

Dr. Fauci has been the voice of wisdom throughout this Pandemic - one of the only voices I trust when it comes to COVID.

I wonder why he downplayed the role of masks around January and February. Compared to the administration he’s done better, but that’s a low barometer. 

jeastridge, BSN, RN

Specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

1 hour ago, cynical-RN said:

I wonder why he downplayed the role of masks around January and February. Compared to the administration he’s done better, but that’s a low barometer. 

We have all learned a lot about COVID-19 since March. I think Dr. Fauci would be the first to say that! 

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 40 years experience.

1 hour ago, cynical-RN said:

I wonder why he downplayed the role of masks around January and February. Compared to the administration he’s done better, but that’s a low barometer. 

The only answer that makes sense is that he was trying to prevent the public from hoarding the masks that health care workers needed. I believe he messed up that one. But - ever since - he has stuck to the science and calmly explained it in ways that the general public could understand.

If they would just listen and do it!

cynical-RN, BSN

Specializes in ICU. Has 10 years experience.

12 hours ago, jeastridge said:

We have all learned a lot about COVID-19 since March. I think Dr. Fauci would be the first to say that! 

That was not my point of contention. 

On 11/18/2020 at 5:11 AM, cynical-RN said:

That was not my point of contention. 

Right.

Your point of contention is what then? 

On 11/18/2020 at 5:43 AM, ICU/EMTP said:

Another political appointee with an agenda. 

Do you think Anthony Fauci is a political appointee? Which president appointed him to his current position with NIAID?

What do you believe that the story of his career says about his agenda? 

7 minutes ago, toomuchbaloney said:

Do you think Anthony Fauci is a political appointee? Which president appointed him to his current position with NIAID?

What do you believe that the story of his career says about his agenda? 

He was appointed head of niaid in 1984. That was during Reagan’s tenure. His role as “advisor” to the President is a political appointment, unless there is a better word. His actions and incompetence throughout this scamdemic have shown he possesses an agenda or is under control from elsewhere. Others in his organization have even spoken out about him and have been forced out as a result. If you feel the response to this raging head cold has been appropriate and not excessive, there is no need for further discussion. Some believe what they are told, others believe what they see and experience first-hand. 

cynical-RN, BSN

Specializes in ICU. Has 10 years experience.

19 minutes ago, toomuchbaloney said:

Right.

Your point of contention is what then? 

Read the initial post I wrote! 

11 minutes ago, ICU/EMTP said:

He was appointed head of niaid in 1984. That was during Reagan’s tenure. His role as “advisor” to the President is a political appointment, unless there is a better word. His actions and incompetence throughout this scamdemic have shown he possesses an agenda or is under control from elsewhere. Others in his organization have even spoken out about him and have been forced out as a result. If you feel the response to this raging head cold has been appropriate and not excessive, there is no need for further discussion. Some believe what they are told, others believe what they see and experience first-hand. 

So are you saying that Reagan appointed Fauci to his current position? You are implying that Fauci is a politically appointed position that presidents since Reagan (including Trump) intentionally maintained? Does that mean that Trump can fire Fauci the same way he fired other appointees when they were loyal to his narrative?

You didn't specify what you believe that Fauci's agenda is.  Your claim that he has a personal agenda in his position is unfounded...unless you care to offer up some specific examples of that agenda and how that specific agenda should be of concern to the average American. 

Yes, I am convinced that you have believed what you have been told about Dr Fauci rather than what true and real.  The best way to dispel that image is to provide facts and evidence to support your beliefs and feelings.  I'm not really a fan of Trumpian evidence like "many people say" or "others in his organization". 

There's either evidence that this career public health professional (Fauci) has some other agenda or there isn't...since you didn't offer any facts or evidence I'm reasonably confident that there isn't any evidence of any other agenda.  The question now becomes why.  Why would a health professional believe and then spread such a thing without evidence?  What other baseless things does that health professional believe? 

23 minutes ago, cynical-RN said:

Read the initial post I wrote! 

I  read it.

What's your contention? What are you asserting with your comment about Fauci's early statements on masks? I am asking you to be clear, concise, specific in your complaint or concern. 

Surely you are aware that criticism of Fauci is politically motivated. 

 

On 11/21/2020 at 10:51 AM, toomuchbaloney said:

So are you saying that Reagan appointed Fauci to his current position? You are implying that Fauci is a politically appointed position that presidents since Reagan (including Trump) intentionally maintained? Does that mean that Trump can fire Fauci the same way he fired other appointees when they were loyal to his narrative?

You didn't specify what you believe that Fauci's agenda is.  Your claim that he has a personal agenda in his position is unfounded...unless you care to offer up some specific examples of that agenda and how that specific agenda should be of concern to the average American. 

Yes, I am convinced that you have believed what you have been told about Dr Fauci rather than what true and real.  The best way to dispel that image is to provide facts and evidence to support your beliefs and feelings.  I'm not really a fan of Trumpian evidence like "many people say" or "others in his organization". 

There's either evidence that this career public health professional (Fauci) has some other agenda or there isn't...since you didn't offer any facts or evidence I'm reasonably confident that there isn't any evidence of any other agenda.  The question now becomes why.  Why would a health professional believe and then spread such a thing without evidence?  What other baseless things does that health professional believe? 

No. I am saying he was appointed to the position in 1984. I do not know under who’s authority, or at who’s whom he serves. His role as “advisor” could be terminated at any time by the President. I stated he EITHER has a personal agenda (political), or is controlled from elsewhere (politically).

cynical-RN, BSN

Specializes in ICU. Has 10 years experience.

47 minutes ago, toomuchbaloney said:

I  read it.

What's your contention? What are you asserting with your comment about Fauci's early statements on masks? I am asking you to be clear, concise, specific in your complaint or concern. 

Surely you are aware that criticism of Fauci is politically motivated. 

 

He was on TV downplaying the gravity of the virus during the first few months of the year. That’s my contention which is not based on what anyone else said or interpreted, but his own words. In retrospect, if we do a root cause analysis relative to mishandling the complexities of controlling the pervasiveness of the virus, Fauci has to be held accountable. Nonetheless that does not absolve the ineptitude of the current administration. 

12 minutes ago, cynical-RN said:

He was on TV downplaying the gravity of the virus during the first few months of the year. That’s my contention which is not based on what anyone else said or interpreted, but his own words. In retrospect, if we do a root cause analysis relative to mishandling the complexities of controlling the pervasiveness of the virus, Fauci has to be held accountable. Nonetheless that does not absolve the ineptitude of the current administration. 

So was it a personal agenda that precipitated that guidance or was it someone else's agenda exacted through Fauci? And what do you believe that agenda was or is? You aren't being very specific about this agenda you've claimed exists outside of Fauci's role at NIAID or as a presidential advisor.  What is the agenda and if it's not Fauci's, whose agenda is it?

Perhaps you forgot that the USA suffered from an early experience with PPE scarcity in the first months of the pandemic. All health professionals were recommending masking behaviors intended to preserve stores of medical grade masks for health workers. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7531934/

Edited by toomuchbaloney

macawake, MSN

Has 12 years experience.

The Covid-19 pandemic is worldwide.

You’re free to agree or disagree with the various measures that different countries have implemented in an effort to combat this virus, but when you try to pretend that it isn’t a genuine threat, you lose all credibility.

While many people have only light or no symptoms from an infection, for a large number of people it’s a damn sight worse than a ”head cold”.

If you had worked in an ICU recently you would know this. If you’re kept abreast with the evolving Covid-19 research you would know this. Actually, anyone who lives in the real world knows this.

This virus doesn’t discriminate. It kills people on both sides of the political divide. It kills apolitical people as well. I don’t understand this desire you seem to have to turn this into a political fight. Turning this into a political squabble makes it harder to meet this challenge with a unified front. It’s destructive.