The following is a transcript of an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, that aired on Sunday, September 5, 2021, on "Face the Nation."
WEIJIA JIANG: We begin this morning with America's COVID crisis and President Biden's Chief Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Good morning, Dr. Fauci. It's great to see you.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Good morning. Good to be with you.
WEIJIA JIANG: I want to start with boosters, because we are just over two weeks away from September 20th. That is the date that the administration had planned to start administering vaccine boosters for adults. Is that still the plan?
DR. FAUCI: In some respects, it is. We were hoping that we would get the- both the candidates, both products, Moderna and Pfizer rolled out by the week of the 20th. It is conceivable that we will only have one of them out, but the other will likely follow soon thereafter. And the reason for that is that we- as we've said right from the very beginning, we're not going to do anything unless it gets the- the appropriate FDA regulatory approval. And then the recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Looks like Pfizer has their data in, likely would meet the deadline. We hope that Moderna would also be able to do it so we could do it simultaneously, but if not, we'll do it sequentially. So the bottom line is very likely, at least part of the plan will be implemented, but ultimately the entire plan will be.
WEIJIA JIANG: So I know that the FDA and the CDC have- have said that there's insufficient data, as you just mentioned, about the Moderna booster. Is there anything you can tell us about what data is still missing that you still need and how long it's going to take to collect that information?
DR. FAUCI: You know, the data or into two elements, one is safety. In other words, to get enough people that you've followed significantly along enough to say that it's safe, we feel almost certainly that it is. But you want to make sure when you're dealing with allowing the American public to receive an intervention, you want to make sure you are absolutely certain. The other is the immunogenicity or efficacy. immunologists. (AUDIO GLITCH) would predict it would be protective. The company is getting their data together, will submit it or even has submitted some of it, if not all of it, to the FDA. The FDA will examine it and then make a determination whether from a regulatory standpoint, it's OK to go ahead. So, it looks good. I mean, I think it's going to be at the most a couple of weeks, a few weeks delay, if any.
WEIJIA JIANG: And if the Pfizer is available on the 20th, has the eligibility change for people who can start getting it?
DR. FAUCI: Well, no, actually, the eligibility, as we've mentioned, is a regulatory decision and a recommendation from the advisory committee, so nothing has really changed with regard (AUDIO GLITCH)
WEIJIA JIANG: OK, well, if I had the Moderna vaccine and I'm hearing that Pfizer is going to be available come September 20th, is it OK for me to mix and match? And what about for people who got the--
DR. FAUCI: We are doing-
WEIJIA JIANG: -- Johnson and Johnson?
DR. FAUCI: No, that's a good question. We are doing studies right now, which are just what you said, they are mix and match studies. Namely, we're lining up Pfizer against Pfizer, Pfizer for Moderna and vice versa. Hopefully within a reasonable period of time, measured in a couple of weeks, we will have that data. But right now, we are suggesting and hopefully it will work out that way, that if you got Pfizer, you will then boost with Pfizer. If you get Moderna, you'll be boosting with Moderna. But we are doing the studies to determine if we can do just that. Switch one with the other.
WEIJIA JIANG: Got it. Thank you. I want to move on to kids who have Covid because so many are returning to the classroom after this Labor Day weekend. And I know the CDC just released two reports this week, one that showed hospitalization rates in the US for children and teenagers increased by nearly five times from the end of June to mid August. Can you help us understand that spike?
DR. FAUCI: Well, it's pretty easy to understand because we're dealing with the Delta variant. The Delta variant, as opposed to the Alpha variant, is much, much more transmissible. It has an efficiency of transmitting from person to person much, much more readily than previous variants. And so many more people, including children, are getting infected. And that's something that is not so (AUDIO GLITCH)...that is so easily transmissible. You'll get more children infected and in fact when they get infected just on a pure basis of the relative number of people that will actually get into the hospital, you're going to wind up seeing more children in the hospital.
WEIJIA JIANG: And what can you tell us about the severity of those cases in light of the Delta variant?
DR. FAUCI: You know, we're looking at that very carefully, there is some indication in adults that the Delta variant might be more severe, but all the data that we are collecting right now does not give us any definitive information that the Delta variant is more severe in children. We know certainly more children are getting infected and therefore more are getting hospitalized. But we don't have definitive enough data to say that is fact on a child by child basis, that it's any more severe.
WEIJIA JIANG: And I know that Delta remains very dominant. But you said this week that you're also keeping a close eye on the Mu variant. And the World Health Organization has listed it as a variant of interest. What does a close I mean, what are you looking for?
DR. FAUCI: Well, you're looking to see if it becomes more dominant, namely if the relative proportion of isolates in a given place, including in this country, becomes more. Right now, we're not seeing that the Delta variant is over 99% dominant. So, when we say we're keeping an eye on the Mu variant, we want to make sure it doesn't become more dominant. We actually don't know what the consequences would be. The concern is that it has a few- a constellation of mutations that would indicate that it might evade the protection from certain antibodies. That's what we mean when we say we're keeping an eye on it. But right now, it is not an immediate threat, even though we take all of these variants very seriously.
WEIJIA JIANG: And is there any data available to gauge how effective the vaccine might be against Mu?
DR. FAUCI: Well, no, I don't think there's any indication right now because we don't have enough data, but if you look at the level of antibodies that our vaccines induce, particularly following the boost, I mean, we have data now that when you give a third boost to either the Moderna or to Pfizer, you (AUDIO GLITCH) ... that, it's very effective against any variant that we've tested. So that's the good news about all vaccines. If you get the level of antibody high enough, which boosters actually do? Then you can feel pretty confident that you're going to be protected against virtually any variant.
WEIJIA JIANG: OK, Dr. Fauci, thank you so much for joining us this morning. And we're sorry about some of those technical glitches you saw, but we heard you loud and clear. Thanks.
DR. FAUCI: No problem. Thank you.