Just under half of all eligible Americans have received full vaccinations against the coronavirus, but the Delta and Lambda variants threaten that progress. The Biden administration has continued to urge Americans to receive the shots as soon as possible, but in some states the demand for vaccines has fallen, even with ample supplies now available.
Fauci has blamed politics for deterring an otherwise successful vaccination effort, with the majority of U.S. states and territories having administered at or above 75% of their first vaccine doses, according to the CDC.
“I mean, it’s ideological rigidity,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think there’s no reason not to get vaccinated. Why are we having red states and places in the South that are very highly ideological in one way, not wanting to get vaccinations – vaccinations have nothing to do with politics.”
Fauci also labeled scenes from this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) “horrifying” when participants cheered following a comment that the government was not able to achieve 90% vaccinations.
“It’s horrifying,” Fauci said. “I mean, they are cheering about someone saying it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives.”
“I just don’t get it,” he added. “I don’t understand that.”
Fauci now serves as both the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and as Biden’s chief medical adviser. He has repeatedly pointed to political issues over the past year as complications to combating the virus and rolling out vaccinations.
Recent polling by Gallup has shown that one in five Americans have no plan to get vaccinated at all.
Part of the concern among health officials is the increased virulence of new variants: The Delta variant is estimated to be roughly 40-60% more virulent – though vaccines maintain over 90% efficacy against serious illness and death – while the Lambda variant has become the dominant variant in Peru in a very short period of time, though, officials have yet to label it a variant of concern.
“If you’re not vaccinated, you should be concerned,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We know from extensive experience, not only in our own country, here in the United States, but in other countries, that the vaccines that we are using work extremely well against the Delta variant, particularly in preventing advanced disease that would lead to hospitalization and likely death in some circumstances.”
“That’s the reason why we’re very concerned, is that we have some sort of a schism between some states and some areas that have a very low level of vaccination, which is really unfortunate because we want to make sure those people are protected for their own safety and their own life, but that of their family in their community,” he added.