Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview that the COVID-19 vaccines becoming mandatory in some cases is “on the table” with regard to international travel, or even in some localities to allow a return to in-person learning at schools.
Speaking to Newsweek in an interview that was published on Friday, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases spoke on the potential for so-called immunity passports, stating, “Anything is on the table. Anything is possible, of course.”
Fauci, who presumed president-elect Joe Biden announced last month would serve as the chief medical adviser in a Biden administration, Forbes reported, signaled he would help to form policy for which cases vaccines might become mandatory. But he doesn’t foresee the federal government mandating the vaccines broadly.
“It’s not up to me to make a decision. But these are all things that will be discussed [under the Biden administration],” he told Newsweek.
Fauci stated with regard to national health matters “we almost never mandate things federally.”
“I’m not sure [the COVID vaccine is] going to be mandatory from a central government standpoint, like federal government mandates,” he said. “But there are going to be individual institutions that I’m sure are going to mandate it.”
“For example, influenza and Hepatitis B vaccines are mandated at many hospitals. Here at the NIH [National Institutes of Health], I would not be allowed to see patients if I didn’t get vaccinated every year with flu and get vaccinated once with Hepatitis [B]. I have to get certified every year … if I didn’t, I couldn’t see patients,” he said.
As far as mandatory vaccinations for schools go, Fauci said he foresees those decisions being made “at the state level and city level.”
“A citywide school system might require it in some cities but not other cities. And that’s what I mean by things not being done centrally but locally,” he added.
He also speculated some countries might make proof of a vaccine required prior to travel. Israel, for example, will issue the so-called immunity passports to citizens traveling abroad. Those passports could allow those who have them to avoid COVID testing upon arrival at their destinations.
The U.S. could issue similar immunization passports under a Biden administration and potentially at the recommendation of Fauci.
Also, with regard to confusing information about the vaccines which might require those inoculated to remain socially distant and masked, Fauci said that is because it is not yet known if being vaccinated can prevent people from passing along the coronavirus to others.
“We do not know if the vaccines that prevent clinical disease also prevent infection. They very well might, but we have not proven that yet,” he told Newsweek.
“That’s the reason why I keep saying that even though you get vaccinated, we should not eliminate, at all, public health measures like wearing masks because we don’t know yet what the effect [of the vaccine] is on transmissibility.”
On the subject of the unknowns about both the coronavirus and now the vaccine, Fauci said “We don’t know what we don’t know.”
A day before his Newsweek interview, Fauci predicted a return to “normality” by the fall of this year during an interview on MSNBC.
“If we do it correctly, hopefully, as we get into the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall of 2021, we can start to approach some degree of normality,” he said.