Dr. Fauci discusses mass vaccination plans, latest on new COVID-19 variants

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser discusses the latest on the battle against the coronavirus, including an update on the emerging strains from the U.K. and South Africa.
5:24 | 01/28/21

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Transcript for Dr. Fauci discusses mass vaccination plans, latest on new COVID-19 variants
We welcome back president Biden's chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci. Thanks for coming back. The situation we're facing right now. We're seeing some cases coming down across the country and hospitalizations come down across the country. Yet, we also have that prediction from the task force yesterday, 90,000 deaths in the next month. How would you sky what we're facing right now? Well, it's still a very serious situation, George, as the president had said and as we have said in the coronavirus medical team that if you look throughout the country the dynamics of the outbreak are a little bit unstable even though for the most part we're seeing general trend, seven-day trends of cases going down and ultimately hopefully hospitalizations and deaths, you have situations like the outbreak in California with the new variant there causing a lot of trouble. The threat of seeing now other variants that are, you know, at least from what we're hearing from our uk colleagues that increases the degree of transmissibility significantly. Maybe a little bit increase in leality but that variant, the uk variant it's called, 117, it's a lineage, different type of mutant, it's here in the united States and it spreads more. The vaccine that we have looks like it would be able to cover that, which is another reason why even though the message is sober about the fact that we're going to be seeing more cases and deaths in the future, the other message is now is the time to double down and when the vaccine becomes available go get your vaccine because that's going to be very important. The problem is it's not valuable everywhere right now. We awe president Biden say he was having a goal of 1.5 million a day. It appeared that members of the task force were backtracking from that yesterday. What can we expect in the coming weeks and beyond? You know, what you can expect if things go well and I think they will an escalation of the number of doses that will be available throughout various regions of the country. We now have contractual arrangements with modern and pfizer already to get 200 million doses each from each of those companies and most recently we signed another contractual arrangement with get an additional 100 million doses in addition to the original 200 from each of these. So as the months go by, George, as we get into February, March and April, we're going to see an escalation of availability of doses that we may not have had a week or two or three ago. Are we moving fast enough to outrace the variants? You mentioned the uk variant and one from South Africa. Well, the one in south Africa, George, troubles me and the reason it troubles me, even though this is something that is really dominating the south Africa scene, when you look at the vaccines that we have available now, the neutralizing antibodies that they induce, so we're talking about things just in a test tube, when you measure that against the south African isolate it is diminished. It's still within the range of what you would predict to be protective but I take no great comfort in that. I think and we're doing it and that's one of the things I wanted to mention this morning, George. We're going ahead already now and trying to stay a step or two ahead of things by making vaccines along the same type that we made for the ones we're giving now but having it be directed specifically against the isolate in South Africa. If it is necessary we'll already be on the road to being able to give people a boost that directs against the south African isolate. That's what we're doing right now. Not taking chances. Seeing this controversy about schools opening up. We know president Biden's goal to have all elementary schools open in the first 100 days but you're seeing strong feelings. Teachers in Chicago didn't want to go back to work this week until they were vaccinated. The union is threatening to strike. What is the science say about where things stand right now? Well, it's very clear that right now in a situation when you look at the community pen penetrants in the schools interestingly when you give the schools the protection and resources they need to be able to have masking, to get the teachers to be able to have the resources they need to do some physical separation, the infection transmission in school appears to be less than that of the community. So if you have a situation where you have a dynamic of a viral spread in a community, it's less likely that the children that are in school if we do things right it's less likely they'll get infected so the science tells us there's something leaning towards all the things that we need to do, obviously we want to get the teachers we want to make sure they have the resources to do it correctly. But when you look at the history of how this virus is moving in schools, it seems to be less spreading there than it is in the community. Dr. Fauci, thanks again for your time and information this morning. Robin. Always appreciate him joining us, George. You're right about that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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