“I get upset because people point to anecdotes of somebody who got sick even though they had been vaccinated and say, ‘There, you see, it doesn’t work,’ That’s way too simplistic,” said Dr. Francis Collins on his last day as director of the National Institutes of Health.
Around 50 million Americans still haven’t received even their first dose of Covid-19 inoculation, and with the omicron variant causing a major surge in new cases throughout the US, Collins made his frustration in those still refusing to get vaccinated evident.
“How did that happen? How did we get all of this so mixed up with social media, misinformation, and political insertion into the discussion? This is the thing for me on my last day as NIH director that I find particularly frustrating.”
An investigation performed by NPR revealed that vaccination rates are substantially lower in US counties that were in support of former president Donald Trump. Individuals living in counties that had a 60% or higher approval rating for Trump are three times more likely to die from Covid-19 due to the lack of inoculations.
“We’ve got to remember, Covid is the enemy. It’s not the other people in the other political party. It’s not the people on Facebook who are posting all sorts of crazy conspiracies. This is the enemy,” Collins exclaimed.
“We in this country have somehow gotten all fractured into a hyper-polarized, politicized view that never should have been mixed with public health. It’s been ruinous and history will judge harshly those people who have continued to defocus the effort and focus on conspiracies and things that are demonstrably false.”
Collins also warned that with its dozens of mutations, “the omicron variant has the properties to potentially be evasive of the vaccines. I urge the 60% of Americans who are eligible for a booster shot but haven’t gotten one to take action.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to the media this week as well, explaining that the omicron variant is particularly concerning because of its “extraordinary transmissibility. It has a ‘doubling time’ of just 2-3 days. That’s the time it takes for the number of coronavirus cases to double.”
Data from South Africa, where the omicron variant first emerged, shows that it leads to less severe symptoms and does require less hospitalization, but that could also be due to the fact that “South Africa’s population has so much experience with prior infections that it might be underlying immunity that’s making it look like it’s less severe.”
“And even if omicron does turn out to be less severe than delta, the sheer number of expected omicron infections is likely to overcome the “slight-to-moderate diminution in severity. U.S. hospitals are going to be very stressed with people,” Fauci said.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.