Dr. Anthony Fauci voiced optimism about the United States’ progress in the fight against COVID-19 in a one-on-one interview last week with Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, the primary care physician and social media influencer known as “Dr. Mike.” At the same time, Fauci, Director of The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and chief medical advisor to the last seven presidents, made it clear that the battle is far from over.

“Overall it’s very positive,” Fauci told Varshavski during a 23-minute conversation, “but one of the things we get concerned about is declaring victory prematurely.”

In fact, Fauci added, the U.S. is “still in the middle” of the pandemic.

“We still have a ways to go,” he said. “It looks like we’re gonna nail it. I think we are. Science will come to the rescue.”

Further steps are needed, however. More Americans need to become fully vaccinated, Fauci said, so that the U.S. can achieve the threshold for achieving herd immunity, which he estimated to be between 70 and 85 percent.

He also said that the U.S. must become part of the global response to the pandemic, as many countries have not distributed vaccines as widely as the U.S. has, and indeed might not turn the tide for “a couple of years.” To that end, Fauci said, the plan is to export some 80 million doses by late June or early July, with more to follow.

Fauci believes the U.S. has “a moral responsibility” to do that and added that it is also in the nation’s self-interest to do so because of the inevitability of variants and the certainty that they will spread to our shores at some point.

Asked by Varshavski what he would say to those who might be hesitant to receive the vaccine, Fauci said he would simply lay out the facts. To those who believe vaccines were developed too quickly, he would point out that it represented “the culmination of decades of research,” not an 11-month process. To those who wonder if it has been tested enough, he would point out that millions have already safely received it. And to those who might believe it is inconvenient to receive one, he would point out that it is now “extraordinarily easy” to do so, as it is available at thousands of pharmacies, as well as vaccine centers and mobile units.

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