Transcript: Dr. Anthony Fauci on "Face the Nation," November 28, 2021
The following is a transcript of an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, that aired on Sunday, November 28, 2021, on "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: Dr. Fauci, thank you very much for making time.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Thank you for having me. Good to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's been an incredible past two years. There's a lot to unpack and I want to kind of start off with where we are in this moment right now. We're seeing cases increase once again. Are we in a fifth wave?
DR. FAUCI: Well, we certainly have the potential to go into a fifth wave. And the fifth wave, or the magnitude of any increase, if you want to call it that it will turn into a wave, will really be dependent upon what we do in the next few weeks to a couple of months. For example, we have now about 62 million people in the country who are eligible to be vaccinated, who have not yet gotten vaccinated. Superimpose upon that, the fact that, unquestionably, the people who got vaccinated six, seven, eight, nine, 10 months ago, we're starting to see an understandable diminution in the level of immunity. It's called waning immunity, and it was seen more emphatically in other countries before we saw it here. For example, Israel, which is usually about a month or a month and a half ahead of us temporally with regard to the dynamics of the outbreak, the administration of vaccines and most recently, boosters. So now we know that although the vaccines are very effective and the data that you look at are incontrovertible, that if you compare unvaccinated with vaccinated, infections, hospitalizations, deaths, dramatically multi multifold more in those who are unvaccinated. However, given the waning of immunity, right now boosters are going to be very important. A third shot for those who got the two mRNAs and another additional shot for those who got the J&J. If we have a combination of getting as many people as we can get vaccinated as possible who have not yet gotten vaccinated, add on to it the children who are now eligible, the five to 11, there's twenty eight million of those, and getting the many, many people now, 70% of the entire population of adults has been vaccinated- about 80% has been vaccinated. If we do that successfully in a very intensive way, we can mitigate any increase because if you look at what's happening right now, as you and I are speaking, we're starting to see an uptick that had plateaued at around 70, 75,000 a day. Now it's starting to go up--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --to 80,000--
DR. FAUCI: --yeah, to 80. So if we now do what I'm talking about in an intense way, we may be able to blunt that. If we don't do it successfully, it is certainly conceivable and maybe likely that we will see another bit of a surge. How bad it gets is dependent upon us and how we mitigate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said in the past that you would like to get under 10,000 infections a day in order to sort of live with COVID.
DR. FAUCI: Right, yeah. You know--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --We're at 80,000. How do you get all the way down there? Is that even realistic?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, I believe it is. Now MARGARET, I believe it is because there's no doubt there's one thing we know for sure: that 70 to 80,000 a day is an unacceptable level. I mean, we've heard people say, understandably, they're trying to look for a metric to give to the public that we're going to have to start living with COVID. I believe that's the case because I don't think we're going to eradicate it. We've only eradicated one infection of mankind, and that's smallpox. I don't think we're even going to eliminate it. The way you've eliminated polio from the United States, you've eliminated malaria, which was, you know, decades and decades ago. We had malaria right here in Washington, D.C. We've eliminated measles because we have a very, very, very intensive vaccine campaign that did that. So we're looking at control. So control has a pretty wide bracket. You don't want to control at 70 to 80,000. I have empirically said I would like to see it get below 10,000, but maybe even lower than that. Because if you have a smoldering amount of infection in society, that's 20, 30, 40,000 infections, what happens is that as immunity wanes among people, even the vaccinated people secondarily become more at risk. If you lower the level of infection so low that it doesn't give the virus the opportunity to either seek out the very vulnerable, or those who's never been vaccinated, and the somewhat vulnerable, those whose immunity has waned down to a certain level. So that's the reason why we have multiple moving parts. We'd like to be very arithmetic about it. This is the amount we need. This is the time we're going to do it. But when you have these moving parts, the best way you can get to where you want to go is to just say we're going to vaccinate as many people as we can, we're going to get as many people boosted as we can, and we're going to get that level down. And I think that's going to have to be as low as less than 10,000.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you've been talking about all the problems you have there with convincing these people who are really dug-in and anti-vaccine. Is it really realistic that we have to get to 85% of the population, which is what you've said in the past, in order to sort of have herd immunity? I mean, it seems almost impossible to get there.
DR. FAUCI: Let me get to that number, MARGARET, because it really is important. We have to be very humble about it. We don't know what that number is. And the reason is the number is a moving target. Because if you get someone who's vaccinated and he wanes down and gets below a certain level, I don't know whether you can count that as a full protected person, which is the reason why it's a combination not only of getting the total population vaccinated as a primary, but also getting people boosted. And that's what I mean by a moving target. I've always said, and I hope we can clarify it, that measles, we know that the number of people to be vaccinated is over 90%. And the reason we know it, because when you go over 90, you don't see any measles in the community. When you have pockets of sometimes isolated communities where it goes down into the 80s or so, that's when you get the kind of measles outbreaks. So we know, by almost trial and error, what the level of vaccination needs to be to get herd immunity, which as a concept means there's no virus going around. Everything is protected. You should call it more community immunity as opposed to herd immunity. We haven't gotten there yet with COVID, so we don't really know what that number is.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So what you're describing is never really having control, necessarily, of COVID, but learning to what? Get boosted every six to eight months?
DR. FAUCI: Great question. And that's what we don't know. And the only way- the important part when you're dealing with a unique, never-before-experienced outbreak of a new virus, that sometimes you can extrapolate what you know about other viruses because there are some commonalities, but sometimes you have to realize that this may be very unique. So for example, if we get a third shot with an mRNA, it is conceivable that there will be, based on immunological memory of B cells and T cells, the different types of cells that protect you, that you would get enough of what we call maturation. Affinity maturation means get those cells really, really trained to be able to powerfully block significant disease. It may not block getting a little sniffle, but it'll block you from getting significant disease. It is conceivable that when we get that extra boost, that will make the durability go well beyond six months and even longer. Or it may be that we will have to boost people intermittently the way we do it with influenza. Right now, we do not know definitively what that course is going to be. Whether it's going to be a three shot and you're done or three shots and then every once in a while you have to reboost. We'll have to see how things roll out. Otherwise, we just can't say something and guess about it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why isn't the CDC tracking breakthrough infections? Wouldn't you be able to better answer that question if you knew?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, I mean, yes, in many respects, they are. One of the things that--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --Among health care workers.
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, yeah, we need to do a lot of things and the things that we certainly need to do, and we've been discussing this as recently as yesterday, that we really need to find out when you do boost an individual, how long does that immunity last, both from a laboratory standpoint and from a protection standpoint? So the one thing we want to make sure, now that we're getting full blown into the booster phase, we've got to make sure we know what that means from a clinical standpoint.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the public hears you cite information out of Israel, out of a foreign country. Why don't we have that data collection happening here now?
DR. FAUCI: We should have it. We should have it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why don't we?
DR. FAUCI: I can't--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why did- why did the United States decide not to track those breakthrough infections?
DR. FAUCI: Well, it's a very complicated indication- excuse me. It's a very complicated situation. And often the public doesn't hear yet in time things that are being collected. So there's a lot of data, clearly a lot of data, that's being collected by the CDC that people don't know about yet. So we need to make sure in real time we get that data out. Historically, when you're not in a pandemic, you can collect data, you can analyze it, you could talk about it and then you could look back and say this is what we've done. But when you're dealing with a pandemic, you've got to get that out in real time so your policies can be dictated by data that occurred relatively recently, not data that occurred four or five months ago.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's the criticism that they're too academic.
DR. FAUCI: Right, yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But is there data being collected now in the United States about breakthrough infections that the public doesn't know about?
DR. FAUCI: Yes, yes. Yes. The CDC is collecting data, yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Beyond just health care workers, everyday people. You have an idea of what's happening with breakthrough infections?
DR. FAUCI: I don't have the data for you right now, that's obviously- we'll have to get the CDC to get us that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me ask you about how people should be handling the data they may have now, with their kids in particular. The Education Secretary recently told me there should be no need for remote or hybrid learning. OK. But then there are a lot of really confused parents out there.
DR. FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Each school seems to be handling this differently in terms of masking and not masking, or when they alert parents and the like. What's the most responsible thing for parents to do if they know they're sending their child into a classroom and someone in that room tests positive?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, there are a lot of options about that. The one thing you don't want to do, and again, this is the CDC guidelines. This is the kind of things that they have been analyzing and trying to get the best approach. You know, there's the test to stay. In other words, if you test and you're negative, you don't have to go out and get quarantine. The idea about when you get an outbreak in a class of two, to then immobilize essentially, the class is functionally very, very difficult to get a good academic year with some continuity about that. And that's the reason why we need to do several things all at once. One, you want to surround the children with adults who are completely vaccinated. Number two, you want to vaccinate the adolescents that we already have been vaccinating for some time. Vaccinate the five to 11 year old. And when there is a case in the school, then you really got to do something about--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sometimes parents don't even know if there's a case in the school.
DR. FAUCI: I know that and it's- MARGARET, it's got to be articulated much more clearly, so that people know exactly and there's no ambiguity about that. When you don't know what the situation is and you have community spread around, that's the reason why the CDC still recommends masking for the children in school.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC guidelines, they're pretty convoluted about it. It says get tested immediately and quarantine if you've been exposed- this is for children. For a period of 14 days, unless you receive instructions from the school official or a public health official. It really kind of leaves it up to a lot of interpretation there.
DR. FAUCI: I know. And I believe that has to change, to make it more- You know, my approach has always been to be very explicit and then repeat what you said.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. So- so for parents now that have partially vaccinated children, some unvaccinated children, I mean, are all of these guidelines just also going to be a moving target?
DR. FAUCI: Right. No, I hope the guidelines- I think the data will change as we get more and more experience, particularly as we get into a situation where you have more people vaccinated and you get boosted. But you have to get the data to be as close to the recommendation as you possibly can. You can't have it be too much lagging because then you're behind the time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But this is one of those criticisms of how our country responded here. Which is just- maybe it's by virtue of the federal system, but district by district, state by state, different things. And then they look for you for unified, "Tell me what to do. Just tell me what to do with my kids."
DR. FAUCI: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Clarity.
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, I mean, but the clarity when it comes to the situation of the public health, we really need to- and I think they are very likely doing much, much better than what the public thinks they are- is to get the CDC to be very clear, to be very, very sharp about what a recommendation is. And when you don't know what the data- I mean, when there's no data to make that to, then just give a recommendation based on best judgment, if you want to call it that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And when you say lack of data, this has- this has been a criticism throughout. That there's just not enough information being collected in this country. Not enough surveillance being done. Is that still the case in your view?
DR. FAUCI: We do- we need to do more. No doubt about it. No doubt about it. We need to do more surveillance and we need to do more testing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Would we have to worry about vaccinating babies, toddlers, if adults were vaccinated at a higher rate? I mean, very young children still won't have a vaccine well into 2022, according to Pfizer.
DR. FAUCI: Well, I believe it's going to be in the first quarter of 2022. I would hope it would be in the first quarter because the studies are being done right now on children from two to five and then from six months to two years. And now they may take longer because the younger you get, the more obviously vulnerable. Children are vulnerable. You got to be extra, especially careful about safety. I don't think there's going to be an issue with efficacy. There's no reason to believe why it will not be efficacious and ultimately effective in the children. But when you're dealing with children, it's a very sensitive area. And that's the reason why I may take a little bit longer. But I would hope by the time we get into the first quarter of 2022, we'll be able to do that. You know, one of the things that people should appreciate is that we are in a very stressful, unique and complicated situation with COVID 19. But when we look back on this, it's going to settle into something that will ultimately be a policy that's been tried, true and tested. We vaccinate children way down to lower age for diseases that have much less morbidity and mortality than COVID-19. So that's what I say when people say, "Are you sure you want to be vaccinating the children?'' Yeah, we do want to be vaccinating the children because we want to vaccinate and protect everyone in society, including children.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the CDC often takes years before they give that recommendation for pediatric vaccines. Do you think it'll move faster?
DR. FAUCI: Yes, it will.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So next year, kid goes into the classroom. Will it be required, do you think?
DR. FAUCI: I don't know if it's going to be required, but I can tell you, I have always been- I mean, I'm an infectious disease person. I'm a public health person. I would push for getting people who are vulnerable, and children are vulnerable, as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So when do we get to pull back the public health restrictions for kids? Is it until the toddlers get vaccinated?
DR. FAUCI: No, I think that you're going to see likely a gradual pulling back when you get- You have to put the dynamics of the outbreak in a community into the mix of your decision making. You're going to have children vaccinated. You'll have teachers vaccinated. When the community level goes down- I mean, being in a- in a region, a state, a city or a county in which you are red hot by the color code, versus red, orange, yellow, green, et cetera. If you're in a red hot area, you're not going to want to pull back on masking or pull back on any of the mitigation. If X number of months from now, you have a very high proportion of children vaccinated and you are in an area with a level where I call the dynamics of infection is very low, I would be almost certain that you're going to see a significant diminution in the mitigations, such as masks and things like that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hmm. It's just such a moving target for people all the time, and they say, How do I know my community infection level? How do I know what's red? What's green? What's OK?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, I know. Easiest way to say click on the CDC website and you can- you can figure it out in a second. But not everybody has access to that, and not everybody knows how to do that. So it's going to be a combination of those who can access that online information, as well as getting out there would a lot of PSAs. I mean, the Community Public Health Service, that's one of the things that I've been talking about for some time now. When you talk about what the successes and what the vulnerabilities of our response have been to this, I divided up into two groups: scientifically preparedness and response and public health preparedness and response. Fortunately for us, the scientific preparedness and response has been unprecedentedly good, if not magnificent. And to be able to get a vaccine from the time you get the sequence of the virus, to get it a successful, highly effective and safe vaccine in the arms of individuals within 11 months has never even been imagined, much less done. So the science came through, the science came through. The public health is different. We thought we had a good system. We found out that our public health infrastructure at the local level was just extraordinarily outdated in so many respects. Personnel were leaving. People were using fax machines instead of computer online things. If you want to have a tracking of an outbreak or responding to an outbreak, getting messages out to the community, knowing whether you live in a community that's a yellow, an orange or a red so that everybody in the community knows, that's something we did not have early on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we still don't have a national surveillance system that from the local level up--
DR. FAUCI: --Not to the level that I was built to be appropriate. Right--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --is built out. So you just brought us to one of the chief public failures as diagnosed by other doctors, and I want- I want to tick through some of these--
DR. FAUCI: --Alright--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --to see if you agree--
DR. FAUCI: --Sure--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --with some of the criticisms of the public health response. The U.S. didn't have a national surveillance system, testing was inadequate and there was a lack of data.
DR. FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You agree with that.
DR. FAUCI: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It was a deadly mistake by the CDC to try to use the flu as a model, according to Dr. Deborah Birx. It meant doctors were looking for spread in the wrong places and did not recognize the possibility of asymptomatic spread. Was that the chief, early on?
DR. FAUCI: Well, you know, I think that some of what you said is correct. The idea about not recognizing that it was spread in a very efficient way, in an asymptomatic situation, was really a problem. Because what it did- it did not allow a testing of the asymptomatic individuals, which should have been done right from the get go.
MARGARET BRENNAN: People were walking through TSA, getting their temperatures, and that meant nothing.
DR. FAUCI: Right. Well, I always said that that was meaningless because I've been having my temperature taken and sometimes it's 32, which means I should be dead.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it's the theater of public safety rather than the reality of it.
DR. FAUCI: Yes, yes. I agree. I agree. I mean, clearly we needed to test people who are asymptomatic. No doubt about that. That would have changed a lot of things.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And the flu model being used? Why was it used?
DR. FAUCI: You know, I can't explain that. That's not what I do. I'm sorry I have to tell you that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wasn't as discussed at the- at the COVID task force meetings?
DR. FAUCI: No, it was not. It was not. It was just the CDC would do that and that's the way they looked at respiratory diseases. And it took a while to figure out that this is really, really different from flu, in many respects.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hmm. When did you realize that?
DR. FAUCI: Well, Debbie Birx and I realize that right, you know, right in the middle of the outbreak. You know, the- 2020, right in the middle of 2020, it was very, very clear. And if you go back over the history of that, we did, I did certainly, said we need to be testing. I remember the words, if you go back on some of the statements I made at some of those White House press conferences, we need to flood the system with testing, is what I would say very often, flood the system with testing. Which means not just somebody who shows up with symptoms. Mm-Hmm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But I mean, we looked back at statements and in February of 2020, very early on there, you were still saying it's certainly a possibility, but it's extraordinarily unlikely that COVID was spreading in the U.S.
DR. FAUCI: Right, and that's because we didn't know it at the time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why did you have that blind spot?
DR. FAUCI: Well, it wasn't a blind spot because we didn't- we weren't testing. That was the point. What we were seeing is that the flu model is you look at symptomatic disease, ILIs, flu like illnesses, you know, those were the ones, influenza like illnesses. And influenza like illnesses are not noticed unless you get an influenza like symptom. So the model of using a flu model was never able to get applied until it was clear that it should have been not the ILI, but that the asymptomatic model that when you have a disease in which you have 30 to 40% of the people who get infected have never- no symptoms, then you see transmissibility. 50 to 60% of the transmisabilities occur from someone who has no symptoms, who either never will get symptoms or is in the pre-symptomatic phase. That was unprecedented in respiratory illness. So I guess you could say, well, you should have known that. The CDC should have known that. Well, maybe they should have known it after it happened for a bit, but they couldn't have known it from day one. You could not have known that from day one. But it should not have taken so long to figure out that, in fact, we have a substantial amount of transmission that's asymptomatic, which should trigger why you should be testing asymptomatic people. And getting back from things that have been brought up by historians now, because it was a year ago, when that came out of said only testing people with symptoms, Debbie Birx was against that and I was against that. It was very, very clear that we should be testing asymptomatic people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It also brings us to why people should have been wearing masks earlier. They didn't know that they were spreading it.
DR. FAUCI: Exactly. And that's the reason why back in January and February, we're saying we're not so sure you really need masks because we didn't realize at the time that there was being asymptomatic spread. That was one of the real reasons. As soon as that became clear, there was no doubt you should be wearing a mask.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Matt Pottinger, the former deputy national security adviser, brought that up, and he told us that was one of the most costly mistakes. And he brought it up in the context of- he said he was talking to doctors he knew in Asia who were telling him things that the CDC was saying, you're wrong, that the CDC was telling him he didn't know what he was talking about. Though he was talking to people on the ground who were telling him firsthand, this is how the virus was spreading.
DR. FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Was the masks the costliest mistake? And where do you rank that the lack of informing the public earlier on to wear them?
DR. FAUCI: Well, it was not only the masks. It was not realizing that we had an insidious enemy in the virus that was lurking below the radar screen. And it's not just a question of wearing a mask, which should have been done at the time had we known that. It was the realization that in crowded places, poor ventilation, congregating together. When you have an infection that 50 to 60% of it is transmitted by an asymptomatic person, a lot of things change, not just masks. Masks are clearly one of the big ones. I mean, I get asked that question all the time about why not mask in the beginning. It was not an appreciation. First of all, besides the fact that we didn't realize masks outside of the hospital setting work. We didn't know that. It was said- it was said the data shows it works in the hospital, but we don't know--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Matt Pottinger was saying he was in the White House telling doctors that you need to wear them. Look at what's happened in Asia previously and wearing masks.
DR. FAUCI: Right, right. And the fact is, the Asians wear masks is a very important part- long yet- long after COVID leaves us, the Asians are going to be wearing masks.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Will we be wearing masks?
DR. FAUCI: I think we might. I think people are going to realize that one of the things that was noticed, very clearly now, is that when you were wearing a mask, when everybody finally realized it was important to wear a mask, that influenza was sort of off the map. I mean, we didn't have hardly any influenza last winter. The Australians didn't have any influenza. So it was very clear, that something that was not fully appreciated. It was somehow dogma, which it was assumed that masks in a hospital setting work, but there's no evidence that they work outside of the hospital setting. And then when they did better analysis, it became clear that masks do work outside of the hospital setting. There was a feeling that, well, if we wear masks, we're going to take away from the masks that are needed by the people who were in the hospitals.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because there wasn't an adequate stockpile.
DR. FAUCI: There wasn't an adequate stockpile. So that's where it was- then not a push for people to wear masks. And then the thing that was the real clincher, for sure, was the realization that you may be standing next to somebody talking to them, they have no symptoms and then they're infecting you right now. This idea, which was getting back to the incorrect flu model, which was clearly originally extrapolated to COVID, now it's clear it is not the right model, is that in a flu season, there's a very, very brief window before you get symptoms that you could transmit it. But you don't have people who go through the entire flu and- and- and- and don't get symptoms. So COVID is very different from flu in many respects.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I point some of these specific things out because they don't- they're not political. These were public health mistakes.
DR. FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's almost scarier.
DR. FAUCI: Well, you know, I think to- to defend the CDC, if I could for a moment, is that one can say something is a mistake because, you know now data now that you didn't know then. So technically it really is a mistake. But if you had--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But then- but then if you look at the news reports, I mean, you look at doctors in China, in hospital wards, in hazmat suits.
DR. FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're talking about putting a mask on your face as being ridiculous at the time. I mean, it just in hindsight, it looks so--
DR. FAUCI: --but--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --obvious, but we were not up to the challenge here in getting ahead with such cutting edge medical care in this country. It's kind of shocking, isn't it?
DR. FAUCI: Well, you're right in saying that, but let's get back to the hazmat suit because I'd like to respectfully correct you for a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Go ahead.
DR. FAUCI: Is that hazmat suits were used by people who were taking care of sick individuals.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hmm.
DR. FAUCI: You didn't see too many people in China wearing hazmat suits walking down the street. They were wearing masks--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --No, in hospitals--
DR. FAUCI: --yeah, in hospitals--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --and our doctors didn't have adequate care when they needed it.
DR. FAUCI: In the very beginning, we didn't have- It's not that we didn't realize you should wear them. It was that we didn't have enough PPE right in the beginning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But my point was, isn't that a warning--
DR. FAUCI: --Yeah. Yeah--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --when you see it?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, like I said when I told you a moment ago. It was the scientific approach, preparedness and response, and the public health preparedness and response. I find it interesting that I'm here responsible for this and trying to defend this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No, I think you're just- you're America's doctor, Dr. Fauci. So everyone looks to you to explain it all.
DR. FAUCI: That's true, and I try to explain it to the best of my ability. But there are some things that I can't defend because I'm not responsible for them. Maybe I would have done them differently if I were responsible for them. But if I'm not responsible for them, you want to talk about vaccines. That's what I did.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But just to button that up. Why aren't we having a national conversation about what went wrong? I mean, apart from this room right now, why isn't there a 9/11 type commission?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, I think what's going to happen is that you are going to see that for sure, MARGARET. I think the lack of doing that now is because you're focusing on getting this thing under control. I would be astounded if we didn't have a very serious look at what went right, what went wrong, from a public health standpoint, from a local standpoint, from a global standpoint. I don't think that the public should imagine that this is going to go through with already 760,000 Americans dying and 40 plus million at least being infected, close to six million people globally dying. And we're not going to look back at this and tear it apart, examine it, do an autopsy on it and try and figure out. So people should not think that that's not going to happen. It's not happening now because everybody's focusing on getting this thing under control.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you want one?
DR. FAUCI: Oh, I absolutely want one.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And do you think the administration will? Well, when will we see that?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah. I think once we get it on the much better control, you're going to start seeing a real close examination of that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You- well, in our examination of that, you were quoted as saying it was the worst possible decision for the Trump administration to have left things up to the states.
DR. FAUCI: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Where do you rank that?
DR. FAUCI: I rank that right there, maybe a little bit below some of the things you are talking about, but way up there. Because my- as a scientist and a public health person, you know, people always ask if you had the magic wand and did things exactly the way you wanted, what it would be? One of them would be if ever, if ever there was a situation where you needed a synergistic uniform, well-thought-out approach is when you're dealing with a common enemy of a virus that is a global pandemic, the likes of which we haven't seen in 100 years, to be able to say if I don't really want to do this because I want, you know, my own opinion of what it's going to be with this state versus this state versus this state. To me, that's one of the antitheses of public health. We know exactly what needs to be done. We know you've got to get vaccinated. How can you possibly have a situation where one state says, I'm sorry and you shouldn't be wearing a mask? In fact, you have executive orders saying you shouldn't be wearing a mask.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Florida.
DR. FAUCI: You have another state that does not want to get vaccinated because they think it's a political statement to get vaccinated or not. I mean, we've had and I've said it many times, and I'll say for you, the divisiveness in this country to me is the biggest mistake that supersedes everything that we're talking about, supersedes the mask situation, supersedes everything, have a public health catastrophe and you have divisiveness that is pulling away from doing the right thing to get the outbreak under control. I mean, when we look back historically and look back at this and said we had this devastating plague out there that were killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, and we're having public health principles being decided on the basis of political ideology. I mean, when I give my history of it, that's going to be the number one mistake that supersedes all the other things that we're talking about.
MARGARET BRENNNAN: Public health is often politicized. I mean, you know that so well, from your experience with AIDS, what was the chief lesson you brought into dealing with COVID from that experience with AIDS?
DR. FAUCI: With AIDS? Well, the one thing that- well they were more than one with HIV AIDS is never underestimate infectious disease outbreak because it can be insidious the way AIDS was under the radar screen. And then you find out, you know, 40 years later, it's killed 37 million people, 77 million people have gotten infected. You learn also to pay attention to what's going on in the community. And that's the major lesson I learned. I listened to the people and I wanted to find out what it is that was going on with them. How were they getting infected? Why were they getting infected? What was going on with the circumstances? That's how you really get your arms around an outbreak. You don't do it from above and dictate down. You go into the community and you find out maybe some of those lessons about finding out what's going on in the community with infection would have done us a little bit better.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Was that happening at all in China when this first appeared going back to the fall of 2019?
DR. FAUCI: You know, it was very tough what was going on in China. You know, it's kind of opaque. Clearly there was infection that was percolating, you know, as early as November, maybe even earlier. And then it was the same sort of thing, you know, back then, you had an infection that emerged almost certainly out of an animal reservoir to a- I mean, the bats there all have viruses that when you- the more you study bats there, the more you see how close some of the viruses are to SARS-CoV-2. Clearly, SARS-CoV-1 was a bat to a civet cat to a human. MERS was a bat to a camel to a human. In the beginning, when it first came out, it was, I remember, very, very clearly. It was the very, very end of December, the beginning of January. There was this outbreak in China. Of some unusual cases that was felt to be well, it looks just like SARS-CoV-1, and SARS-CoV-1 was one that was not spread very readily from human to human. It was spread almost all by symptomatic people, hence the transmissions that occurred in hospital and doctor's waiting rooms while people were coughing and sneezing. So it was assumed in the beginning, well, this is the coronavirus. We've just sequenced it on January 10th. We know what the sequence is. Why it- isn't it just assumed that it's SARS-CoV-1, which means it doesn't transmit very well and it's going to get controlled by public health measures, which is exactly what happened with SARS-CoV-1. Then you find out that even though it's SARS-CoV-2, it is a very, very different virus than SARS-CoV-1 because A, it is transmitted spectacularly efficiently from person to person-
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
DR. FAUCI: And B, most of it is a- 40 to 50 to 60 percent is asymptomatic.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why is it so efficient? I've heard so many virologists point to that that it was uniquely adapted to be just horrible in a human body. How did it get that efficient?
DR. FAUCI: Well, it evolves in animals, it evolves in humans, and it could just, you know, sometimes viruses jump into humans and they take off and run right away.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But we don't know what went between the bat and the human. There was something in between?
DR. FAUCI: It was very likely in a host- what the Chinese did, I don't have firsthand knowledge of that, but the people who were reporting it, who investigated what they did is they cleaned out the markets as soon as it turned out that it was clear that there were clusters coming from the market. Which, you know, in typical fashion, I think trying to make sure that things don't get pointed to them, they probably got rid of the animals that were the intermediary hosts there. And that's the reason why it's very important to continue to get the cooperation of the Chinese in allowing surveillance of the animals that ultimately go into the wet markets, the civet cats, the raccoon dogs and all those other things that clearly the- this virus is a very promiscuous virus in the sense that it can infect animals. Animals can infect humans. There are animals out there, big cats, there are animals in the environment that are getting infected with SARS-CoV-2. It's a very highly infective- as long as you have that receptor for the virus, it'll infect you. So that's what makes it- its capability of binding so well to the receptors in the body.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But Beijing acknowledges now that they don't think it originated in that market.
DR. FAUCI: Well, it may not have originated in the market, but it certainly could have, I mean, I don't think that they admitted that it didn't originate in the market. I think they're saying they don't know how it originated.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there were clusters that may have been picked up and transmitted,--
DR, FAUCI: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --as I understand it, through the market,--
DR. FAUCI: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --the place of origin was not within the market itself.
DR. FAUCI: I don't think you could say that. I don't think you can say that. I think you could say we don't know how and where it originated. There were wet markets in Wuhan that are ample opportunity for a virus to jump from an animal that gets brought in from all parts of China that are very closely related physically to bat enclaves in caves and come to the market. So I don't think anyone can say that it didn't come from here or it did come from here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it was the end of 2019 when the World Health Organization was first alerted about the strange pneumonia. Doctors, as you just said, had been tracking back to the fall, possibly as early as October. When was the first time that you heard that there was something, some strange pneumonia?
DR. FAUCI: I think it was the very last day it may have been Dec 31 or the 30th or 1st of Jan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When they informed the World Health Organization?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, I mean, I got- I got a call from Bob Redfield who said, you know, I just heard from colleagues in China that there's an unusual pneumonia among people that has been detected. So we just got to stay heads up for that. And then a few days later, I think it was Jan 9th, or 10th the sequence came out. I got- as soon as I heard there was a new pneumonia, I said, well, a new pneumonia, Wuhan, wet market almost certainly it's going to be a coronavirus. We all thought it would be similar to SARS-CoV-1, and that's when I got my team organized immediately and said as soon as we get that sequence of what it is, let's go after that vaccine, let's plug it into MRNA. We were already collaborating with Moderna with MRNA and let's do it. And it was rocket speed. I mean, we found out on the 10th of January of what the sequence was. About five or six days later we were starting with the vaccine development with Moderna. Sixty-five days later, we did a phase one trial, and multiple months later, we knew we had a safe and effective vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And- and that's incredible speed that you were already there, but it was despite the lack of information being shared. You you mentioned SARS,--
DR. FAUCI: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: the first version of it, you had experienced--
DR. FAUCI: The only- the only-
MARGARET BRENNAN: --Go ahead.
DR. FAUCI: Again, I'm going to get back to what- what I do and my job was to develop a vaccine. So the only information I needed was the sequence of the virus. And when we got that information, I put my team to work to make a vaccine, which was made in unprecedented record time to be a safe and highly effective vaccine. The antigen that's used, the immunogen that is used in virtually all the vaccines, regardless of what the platform is, was developed at the Vaccine Research Center by my scientist in the institute. So that's all I needed was the sequence. I mean, the public health part was handled by the CDC. I just needed the sequence of the virus to make the vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the live- live virus samples wouldn't have had a- it made a difference for you.
DR. FAUCI: I didn't need it at all. I just needed the sequence to get a vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you knew doctors in China and the head of their CDC as all of this is going on. Bob Redfield, the former head of the CDC, said- and you know the story well. He was called by his Chinese counterpart weeping in January saying this is out of control.
DR. FAUCI: Right?
MARGARET BRENNAN: He maintains, Dr. Redfield, that their CDC was kept in the dark. You know, these doctors, I mean, is that what happened? How did this get so far ahead of the medical community?
DR. FAUCI: I can't- I can't comment because I don't know. Margaret, what went on in China, except that the scientists that I know were communicating with us to the point that we- we have a real problem here. This is bad. We're seeing people getting infected and they're getting really, really very sick. And it's not like flu and it's not like anything else we've seen. That's- that's what we got. I mean, that was the information we got. And then when the Chinese started building, within days, these massive hospital complexes, then it became clear that this is a real problem.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When did the alarm bells go off for you?
DR. FAUCI: Well, they were gradual, it wasn't like one big aha, or alarm bells. It was just a gradual rolling out of new information that every time new information came in, it didn't make matters better. It made matters worse. So for me, my job being to get the vaccine, while we were working on the vaccine, I wasn't sure whether it would be a vaccine that we would never even need or be a vaccine that would be lifesaving for millions the way it turned out to be. So what happened? The evolution and the rolling out of the information. First, It's a coronavirus - good. Is it like SARS-CoV-1? Maybe, maybe not. A week or two later, wait a minute it is transmitted from person to person. It isn't just animal to human. A week later, not only is that person to person, it's pretty efficiently from person to person. Two-three weeks later, you know, there is some transmissibility that's from people without symptoms. And then a month or two later, well, not only is it transmissible without symptoms, but half of the transmissions are from people who don't have symptoms. And that was a period from literally day one into several months into it. And by the time we got months into it, New York was getting hit badly. It was clear, wait a minute, we don't- we didn't know back then what we know now, but every time we get new information, it gets worse and worse and worse. That's how things evolve with the pandemic. You don't know from day one exactly what's going to happen on month six until things evolve, because we've never had that situation or that experience before.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to read you something you said back in 2019 when somebody asked you what keeps you up at night? You said, "the thing I'm most concerned about is the emergence of a new virus, the body doesn't have any background experience with very transmissible, highly transmissible person to person, high degree of morbidity and mortality. The thing that worries most of us in the field of public health is a respiratory illness that can spread even before someone is so sick that you want to keep them in bed."
DR. FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You were describing COVID.
DR. FAUCI: I was. My- my worst nightmare that I've been asked about multiple times over the last 37 years that I've been directing the institute has come true. And I've- that statement that you read, I must have said that 50 to 100 times to people in the media, people in the scientific community. When they ask me, what do you really worry about? I've said that- in fact, I said that to multiple presidents along the way, going way way back. I've said it to Reagan. I've said that to George H.W. Bush, to George W. Bush, to Clinton, to Obama. I've said it to everyone. My worst nightmare is something that you've just described, and unfortunately, it's happened.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How many times have you thought of that in the past two years? I've- I've warned about this.
DR. FAUCI: Yeah. I mean, I think about it every day, really.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, it's an incredible description of where we are. How do you grade America's response to your nightmare scenario?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, I grade- as I said, I look at a response as a person who is fundamentally a scientist and a physician and a public health person, indirectly that what I do is I look at preparedness and response in two pillars. One is scientific, and one is public health. I grade scientific, A+. I grade public health. C, B+, B-, C somewhere between B and C. It certainly is not A.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that there are lessons learned from this that improve the scenario, or are we in a place as a country where we're just not ready to fix ourselves?
DR. FAUCI: Well, we better fix ourselves because going back to what I said, Thirty seven years ago, thirty years ago, twenty years ago, ten years ago, it's going to happen again. We're going to get another pandemic. It might be a blip on the radar screen, a new emergence that doesn't go anywhere or it might be something that explodes like this. But if you look at the history of mankind, we've had plagues before the ability to document them by scientific methods like identifying the agent like a thousand years ago, 2000 years ago. Then we've had outbreaks that have devastated us during times when history could record it, and then we've had outbreaks that have occurred when you could actually document what it is. Now, why do we think in our naivety that this is not going to happen sometime in the future? So I would think it would really be a shame on us if we don't take these lessons that we've painfully learned and make sure that they are lessons that have been learned and not just forgotten and put aside. That's the thing that I hope for.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sometimes, though, it seems the public thinks that the election changed everything. But what you're describing are some deep institutional problems and things that we really need to have addressed still.
DR. FAUCI: Yeah. Yes, I mean administrations come, administrations go they- they vary in their response. I think right now, currently, the attention that's being paid to this, the effort that's put it in to get vaccines distributed. I think this is a good response that's happening right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think there need to be tougher regulations for- for labs that deal with contagious- highly contagious viruses?
DR. FAUCI: Well, we did that years ago, we put a three year pause in any of the experiments that would be involving anything that would be dangerous and examined it very carefully, not we, the NIH or the CDC, but outside bodies like the National Academy of Science, the NSABB, multiple workshops to come up with a framework that would guide the kind of work that should be done, the conditions under which should be done, the kinds of things that should not be done. I don't think the public fully realizes that. They hear these words that mean nothing to them, like gain of function. What the heck does that mean? But what they think- People should realize that we are always open in the scientific community to re-examine what we do and how we do it--
MARGARET BRENNAN: And gain- gain of function for people listening is trying to give a virus new, improved abilities.
DR. FAUCI: Right, and- and sometimes it's for a very- not sometimes you always do it and examine it because much of the science that gets done is by modifying things, modifying cells, modifying viruses to be able to study them well enough to prepare you for what will ultimately come. And there are very strict guardrails about that that I don't think the general public fully appreciates. When you have people that can make outlandish statements about things that are just not true.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This is a political football, right?
DR. FAUCI: Oh, it is a total political football, total.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you take the fire specifically for this.
DR. FAUCI: I do. I do, all the time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There's a congressional act with your name on it, literally.
DR. FAUCI: Yes, exactly. And it's just a lot of- well, anyway,
MARGARET BRENNAN: Finish the thought.
DR. FAUCI: No- no. There's a lot of politicization of that. And I think there's a lot of misinformation, disinformation and outright lies about that. And that's really unfortunate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're angry about it.
DR. FAUCI: Well, you know, my concern that I keep saying is that my job is to do what I can as a scientist to preserve and protect the health of the American public and indirectly, in many respects, the health of the world because our country is a leader in science. A leader in health. A leader in the kinds of things- Where did these vaccines come from that are saving millions of people? They came from us. That's my job. The politicization of it is really unfortunate because as I've said, I've stayed away from politics my entire life. I am somebody who only cares about science and health, and it is- you're right, it's painful and disturbing to see when you're trying to focus all of your attention on doing what you can do the way we did to create the vaccines, to develop the drugs, to save millions of lives. And then you have this completely outlandish politicization of it. Politicization of everything. Politicization of the public health, politicization of the origins, politicization of all of it is really- I think when we look back at this, we're going to see what were we thinking, what was going on back then?
MARGARET BRENNAN: The- two Washington Post reporters said that back in July of 2020, you had been speaking to your wife about resigning.
DR. FAUCI: I never spoke to my wife, ever about resigning. They got that wrong. I never even considered for a moment of resigning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Never considered it for a moment?
DR. FAUCI: Not even for a second.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Dr. Birx told us she thought about it almost daily, ultimately didn't but-
DR. FAUCI: Dr. Birx is Dr. Birx and Tony Fauci is Tony Fauci.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why do you feel so strongly about that, about staying on the job when you become, I mean, you were personally not just rhetorically threatened, your security, your safety, your family? How did you deal with that?
DR. FAUCI: I dealt with it by focusing on what my job is from the time that I went into medicine to right now, where I am at my age, my job has been totally focused on doing what I can with the talents and the influence I had to make scientific advances to protect the health of the American public. So anybody who spins lies and threatens and all that theater that goes on with some of the investigations and the congressional committees and the Rand Paul's and all that other nonsense, that's noise, MARGARET, that's noise. I know what my job is.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Cruz told the attorney general you should be prosecuted.
DR. FAUCI: Yeah. I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on Jan. 6, senator?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that this is about making you a scapegoat to deflect--
DR. FAUCI: Of course-
MARGARET BRENNAN: --From President Trump?
DR. FAUCI: Of course, you have to be asleep not to figure that one out.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there are a lot of Republican senators taking aim at this. I mean--
DR. FAUCI: That's OK, I'm just going to do my job and I'm going to be saving lives and they're going to be lying.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It just, it seems, another layer of danger to play politics around matters of life and death.
DR. FAUCI: Right, exactly. Exactly. And to me, that's- that's unbelievably bad because all I want to do is save people's lives. That's what I have done for the last 50 years, 40 of which was 37 of which was leading the institute. And when I see people who scattered around misinformation and lies that can actually endanger the lives of people, but also it is very easy to pick out an individual and make them a target because that's what people can focus on. But you're talking about systems, you're talking about the CDC, you're talking about the FDA, you're talking about science in general. So if they want to- I mean, anybody who's looking at this carefully realizes that there's a distinct anti-science flavor to this. So if they get up and criticize science, nobody's going to know what they're talking about. But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well, people could recognize there's a person there. There's a face, there's a voice you can recognize, you see him on television. So it's easy to criticize, but they're really criticizing science because I represent science. That's dangerous. To me, that's more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me. I'm not going to be around here forever, but science is going to be here forever. And if you damage science, you are doing something very detrimental to society long after I leave. And that's what I worry about.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And in real world terms, what does that mean? Does that mean you fear vaccination rates go down? Does that mean the next national emergency people just don't listen to the doctors. What- what do you mean?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, what I'm concerned about is that if you put science aside and if you discredit science, you start to discredit the truth of what it takes to get people their health preserved, prevent disease, treat disease. When you do that, you are going to really disrupt society in very many respects, and that's what I worry about. I mean, anybody who looks at what's going on in the United States to say there's not a lot of- lies become normalized now, and the social media amplifies the normalisation of lies. So scientists try to say this is the truth, and it's based on data. That's what we live by, data, evidence, truth. And then you all of a sudden have permeating in society, it is OK to say anything you want that is patently, obviously wrong. And if you say it long enough and often enough and you get social media involved, then everybody- not everybody, X percent of the population starts believing it. See, that's what I worry about more than people throwing slings and arrows at me because my whole life has been as a scientist and I identify with the field of health and science. And if you're attacking me, you're really attacking science. I mean, everybody knows that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You told my colleague Ted Koppel that you would not retire until you get COVID in the rearview mirror?
DR. FAUCI: That is correct.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What does that look like? What does rear view mirror look like?
DR. FAUCI: Rearview mirror looks like when you and I are talking some time on an interview whenever, and we're talking about something else and that COVID is not dominating the economy, the- the mental framework of our society. Dominating our fear of being safe for ourselves and our children. That's what it means in the rear view mirror. Not that we've accepted something that's still terrible, but that it's so low that we can start thinking about other things that are much more important.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We've been through a national trauma as a country.
DR. FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How have you processed what you personally have been through, for the past almost two years?
DR. FAUCI: You know, it hasn't been easy I- you know with- the things that I really don't like a lot is the fact that not only me, but my colleagues, when you say something like you need to get vaccinated, to protect yourself, your family and to- and to really fulfill your societal responsibility to keep the community safe. And for that, I get death threats. And for that, I get my family, my wife and my three daughters harassed. That makes me say society has really got a problem. So I've- I've never been someone who is ego-centric, I don't think about what effect it has on me. You know, I worry about what effect it is having on our democracy and our society, that's what I worry about much more. I'm going to be fine, you know, I'm going to be fine. I joke around with people who know me. I grew up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. I'm going to be fine. I don't worry about people who throw these lies around. I worry about what impact it's going to have on society.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I think the country doesn't know how to process this right now. You look at overdose deaths, you look at, you know, drinking, you look at all the like, all the things that our country has suffered through this pandemic. Is there a playbook that you are handing over to the next person right behind you at the NIH when that retirement day does come?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, the playbook for them is to do what I'm doing now, no matter what nonsense, politicization and everything throws at you. Focus on what your goal is and your goal is to end an outbreak by what you have at your disposal. And what we have at our disposal is science, which has led to a highly effective vaccine and soon to be a number of highly effective drugs. And just phase out everything else. If you get caught up in this nonsense of politicization, you're not going to be able to do your job as well. So that's the reason why when all of these things come in, when they pass a law with my name on it, when Joe Schmo says I should retire, I should go to jail. I look at that and I go, forget that. I know what my job is.
MARGARET BRENNAN: For you and your family, I know you've said your daughter's worried about exposing you. You didn't gather with them last year around holidays. This year going into the holidays, how do you advise people? What do they do to safely gather with their family? And are you gathering with your family?
DR. FAUCI Yes, I am. I mean, not for Thanksgiving, only for logistic purposes. My daughters are in three separate cities, triangulated throughout the country and they have jobs and to fly all the way in just for a day. But we're all getting together for Christmas, for sure. The whole family, including the dogs.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And that's- how do you do that safely?
DR. FAUCI: You get vaccinated and you get boosted getting back to the beginning of a conversation, you get vaccinated. You surround yourself with vaccinated people and you get boosted. And when you're in a congregate setting outside of the family setting, you wear a mask because you're not sure what the status of these people are. So I am going to be in my home, with my wife, with my daughters and with their partners, and we're going to be sitting around maskless, enjoying a Christmas and Christmas Eve.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you- do you test going into the gathering and on the way back out? What should people do?
DR. FAUCI: Well, it depends. I think- I mean, my daughters are very careful because of my age. You know, I'm not exactly the youngest person around here and they're concerned about me, even though I'm vaccinated. So what they generally do and I think they'll do this is even though they're vaccinated and boosted with they will likely do is to get tested 48 hours, 24 hours before they come home because they're going to have to make a trip to fly, be in an airport, get on a plane and just to make doubly sure they're going to get one of those home test and test.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And on the way back, they'll do the same?
DR. FAUCI: I would think so, yeah. And that's the reason why, getting back to what I said during 2020, when I said we need to flood the system with testing, I've said that more than once.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And are we there yet because you hear frequently--
DR. FAUCI: No, we're doing- we're getting there, no-
MARGARET BRENNAN: The at home tests are even hard to find.
DR. FAUCI: Now give credit to President Biden where we can. He's invested billions of dollars to get as low as 200 million tests a month and as high as a half a billion tests a month. So the Fauci plea to flood the system with testing is going to happen for sure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you feel traumatized by the past two years?
DR. FAUCI: No, no. I really am very moved by people who are concerned about me, well-meaning people. Maybe even yourself, sincerely concerned about me. But when you focus on what your job is and your job is to save people's lives, you don't have any time to get traumatized. I mean, I don't- I just don't have any time to be thinking about traumatizing. I work- I haven't had a day off in 20 months, and it doesn't bother me because we're doing things that are saving lives. That's really important. That's why I went to medical school and 50 years later, I'm doing it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you- in this playbook, you're handing off to your future successor, do you say the next pandemic comes out as faster? It comes more frequently. I've had World Health Organization scientists say because of things like environmental changes, we're going to have more of these coming at us faster.
DR. FAUCI: You know, I think we likely will, though you can't predict, you know, I've been through multiple, multiple emergencies of diseases. Some have been one off trivial, doesn't mean anything. And you know, there- but for the grace of God, a little change in a mutation could have made it do something a little bit differently. But I think the- the idea of the human animal interface is something that we've really got to address that. You know, that's the reason why I get back to the fact of these wet markets that bring in animals that are next to bats, in caves, in wherever, who knows, all in Southeast Asia, in China.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You want more regulation of those internationally?
DR. FAUCI: I want that to be regulated. I really, really do. And we know the Chinese were trying to regulate that. But there were people who were breaking the law and there was good documentation from people who photographed that- that animals that were not supposed to be brought in from the wild into the wet markets were there. They were breaking the law. And I think that's the reason why when this happened, I don't know, but I think why the Chinese just completely cleaned it out. We're not supposed to be doing that. I think that is one of the reasons why we're not able to find out what the original source was. I think they've destroyed some of the evidence.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So when the PLA, when the Chinese army comes in, they're the first line of control versus the Chinese CDC. You don't think that's about intentionally covering things up, you're painting a scenario there where it's just trying to clean up the mess as quick as possible.
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, the experience with China is even when they have nothing to hide, they're acting suspicious. No, it is. That's the truth. I mean, that is the truth. They're very, very much that they just don't- whenever there's an outbreak, they just want to be able to say it's nothing to do. And even when they've done nothing wrong, they act suspicious.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Dr. Fauci, I know we've taken a lot of your time. Thank you for making it.
DR. FAUCI: My pleasure.
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