Fauci: COVID-19 Messaging Evolved with Scientific Advances

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

Dr. Anthony Fauci takes the Metro. He considers his most abject failure to be his wobbly opening day pitch to the Washington Nationals. He didn’t celebrate his birthday until he was 30, because it falls on the 24th of December. He hasn’t taken a day off from his job as a leader in the U.S. fight against COVID-19 since January 2020.

Dr. Fauci shared those personal insights – and what it’s like to fight a global pandemic in a polarized society – in a virtual fireside chat presented by the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in partnership with the Dallas Regional Chamber. The conversation between Dr. Fauci, and the Retina Foundation’s Dr. Karl Csaky and Dr. Eileen Birch was shared the evening of Thursday, June 3.

Dr. Fauci wasted no time in the discussion to tackle the concept of how scientific understanding evolves, addressing a perception that the science and public messaging surrounding COVID-19have been inconsistent.

“What people need to understand is, in those early days, and even a couple of months into a brand-new outbreak, there is what some people may consider inconsistencies in the science, and inconsistencies in the public health messages,” he said. “Well, it really isn’t. What it is, [public messaging and science] is evolving as the data evolved, and that’s what science is all about.”

Dr. Fauci explained that scientists were watching and learning from the COVID-19 outbreak with the rest of the public, and that scientific processes and advice evolved as knowledge of the virus grew.

“The evolution of an outbreak is almost like an experiment that’s evolving right before your very eyes,” Dr. Fauci said. “That’s the point that I think people need to understand. Now that we have a considerable amount of knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of this historic pandemic, we can be much more firm in the kinds of things that we recommend or don’t recommend.”

Dr. Fauci said one of the most frustrating parts of dealing with the pandemic has been the divided nature of society, and how public health has become politicized.

“If you want to make the metaphor, we are at war with a deadly virus,” he said. “Let’s focus on the fact that the common enemy is the virus. It isn’t each other. Yet, if you were a Martian to land on Earth right now, it would look like you had a virus that was killing a bunch of people and you [would see] people were fighting with each other, instead of fighting with the virus.”

From a personal perspective, Dr. Fauci said his wife has kept him on an even keel and encouraged him to take care of himself. He also shared that he is planning on taking a few days off to reunite with his three adult daughters, who he hasn’t seen for a year or longer.

“Before vaccines became available, they did not want to travel to come home, literally because they did not want to expose me, [to the possibility of COVID-19], Dr. Fauci said. “I haven’t seen my daughters. I haven’t seen my youngest daughter for a year and a half, which is really horrible for not being to see the baby in my family.”

With the drive to reach a 70% U.S. vaccination rate by July 4, Dr. Fauci says he is hoping for a return to normalcy.

“Hopefully, we’ll get 70 percent of the people in the country vaccinated by the 4th of July, that soon, we’ll be able to have a family gathering,” he said.

Dr. Csaky asked about the first thing Dr. Fauci planned to do when his family was fully vaccinated. Dr. Fauci answered, “A big hug. That’s the most-important thing to give them.”