Asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta about the disinformation being spread by Fox News regarding Covid-19 vaccines, Fauci said, “We would probably still have polio in this country if we had the kind of false information that is spreading now. “
He added: “If we had this decades ago, I would be sure we would still have polio in this country. “
The statement comes as dangerous falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines swirl and health experts warn of the growing spread of the more transmissible Delta variant among unvaccinated Americans.
Nationwide vaccination rates are on the decline, while in 46 states, rates of new Covid cases last week are at least 10% higher than rates of new cases the week before, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Yet less than half of the U.S. population – 48.5 percent, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – is fully vaccinated. And it is communities with low vaccination rates that are at risk.
“Despite the rise of the Delta variant, 97% of people hospitalized or killed by this virus are still not vaccinated,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the US Food. and the Drug Administration Vaccine Advisory Committee. “If the Delta variant essentially escaped the immunity induced by vaccination, you should have seen an increase in the number of people vaccinated, but nevertheless hospitalized and killed. And that did not happen. “
Among states that have fully vaccinated less than half of their residents, the average rate of Covid-19 cases was 11 new cases per 100,000 people last week, compared to 4 per 100,000 among states that have fully vaccinated more half of their residents, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
“If you look at the tremendous success of eradicating smallpox and eliminating polio in most countries – and we are on the verge of eradicating polio – if we had had the backsliding of vaccines like we see it on some media, I don’t think it would have been possible not only to eradicate smallpox, but we would probably still have smallpox, ”Fauci said.
Polio was once a common virus. In some young children, it can affect the nerves and cause muscle weakness or paralysis. There is no cure or cure, but getting the vaccine can prevent infection.
In August 2020 alone, polio was eradicated from Africa after governments and nonprofits worked since 1996 to eliminate the virus with sustained vaccination campaigns.
Polio has now been eradicated from the Americas, Southeast Asia, Europe, most of Australasia and Africa. Wild strains of polio are now only circulating in two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
CNN’s Dakin Andone, Travis Caldwell, Kaitlan Collins, Donie O’Sullivan, Naomi Thomas and Aisha Salaudeen contributed to this report.