Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House coronavirus task force member and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made his first late-night appearance on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Social Distancing Show Thursday night, where they discussed the latest developments in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Throughout their conversation, Noah asked Fauci to clarify basic facts about COVID-19 that seem to be the most questioned among the population, such as how one can truly become infected.
Fauci explained that though there are “varying degrees of risk,” the main actions to be the most cautious about include sneezing and coughing (“when someone is ill they got to get themselves out of circulation because they can spread by droplets,” he explained), hand shaking (“just lose that for awhile”) and to make sure that you “wash your hands as often as you can.”
As for the concerns about receiving packages from online stores such as Amazon or wiping down grocery store items, Fauci emphasized that he doesn’t think everyone needs to “get completely obsessed about packages that come in.” “Those types of surfaces, the virus might live there for a very short time. I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s more [about] the close things, the hand washing.”
As he tried to get clarification on who is truly at risk, Noah explained that there seems to be a false belief that younger people are “immune” to COVID-19, to which Fauci disagreed.
“Even though you are young, you are not absolutely invulnerable, for sure. We are seeing cases, most of them have some underlying diseases but several don’t, who are young people, 30s, 40s, who are getting sick, getting into the hospital, requiring intensive care,” he explained.
“You can get infected with relatively few symptoms, either asymptomatic or mild, relatively trivial symptoms, but then you can infect another person, who would then infect a vulnerable person.”
Fauci then emphasized that we “have a responsibility not only to protect yourself,” but “have a societal, moral responsibility to protect other people” by staying at home and avoiding gathering with others.
Noah then touched on the “breeding ground of miscommunication” our country seems to be having when it comes to COVID-19, in particular with medication.
When Noah asked what Fauci would consider his “biggest warning” when it comes to citizens trying to self-medicate, the doctor strongly stated that “right now, today, as we speak, there is no proven, safe and effective direct therapy for coronavirus disease, for sure.”
Though they are conducting “a number of clinical trials,” they are still trying to get “a definitive answer as to what works, what does not work, what’s safe, what is not safe.”
“People kind of think they work but they haven’t proven that they work,” he added of drugs people have mentioned that seem to be helping them ease their symptoms. “A lot of people want a drug, even though it’s not proven, just in case it might help them. You gotta be careful about that.”
“We’re pushing to try to get as many good clinical trials as possible to prove if it works. If it does then get it out there really fast for everybody,” he added.
Though it’s been advised that the country seems to be on a “15-day clock” until things can go back to normal, Fauci explained that it’s hard to truly give a timeframe.
“The virus is the clock. People say in two weeks we’ll be OK. It depends on the kinetics of the outbreak,” he said. He went on to use New York as an example, which he says is “getting hit really hard.”
“If you look at each individual country … we’re almost like a lot of little countries. New York in itself can be considered a country.” Speaking on New York, Fauci cited it as the “travel hub of the country.” “So clearly we had a lot of cases come in,” he said. “By the time they realized what they were dealing with they had already gotten a sucker punch. Really we’re playing catch up. They didn’t do anything wrong … they’re a big, robust city and because of that they’re getting hit hard.”
As to whether you become immune after surviving COVID-19, Fauci said, “We don’t know that for 100 percent certain because we haven’t done the study.”
However, he added that he feels “really confident” about the prospects. “I feel really confident that if this virus acts like every other virus that we know, once you get inflected, get better, clear the virus, then you’ll have immunity that will protect you against reinfection.” He added, “It’s never 100 percent, but I’d be willing to bet anything that people who recover are really protected against reinfection,” he said.
According to a running count by John Hopkins University, the number of people infected in the U.S. topped 82,000 on Thursday, exceeding the 81,000 cases in China and 80,000 in Italy.