Unvaccinated Americans should put politics aside and get vaccinated to protect themselves from the highly transmissible and "nasty" delta variant, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
"What we're trying to do is to just put politics aside, this is no time for politics. This is a public health issue and viruses, and public health don't know the difference between a Democrat and Republican or an Independent,'' the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease told ABC "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.
A recent ABC News/ Washington Post poll found that 93% of Democrats said they were vaccinated or planning to get vaccinated, while only 49% of Republicans said the same.
"We've got to get away from the divisiveness that has really been a problem right from the very beginning with this outbreak," Fauci added.
The delta variant was present in at least 51% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. between June 20 and July 3, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which Fauci said should concern individuals who aren't vaccinated.
"It's very clear that this is a nasty variant, it has a much greater capability of transmitting from person to person," Fauci said.
At least 25 states have seen an uptick in coronavirus cases as vaccination rates dropped to their lowest point since January, averaging 600,000 daily administered doses this past week compared to an average of 1 million administered doses the week prior. According to the CDC, 99.7% of current cases are among the unvaccinated.
Stephanopoulos also noted that Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who appeared later on "This Week," has said that the vaccines' lack of full authorization has contributed to vaccine hesitancy.
"I think the governor does have a point there," Fauci said in response.
"So although it's understandable -- quite understandable that some people might say, well, we want to wait for the full approval, that's really only a technical issue," Fauci continued. "But there's no doubt in my mind that these vaccines are going to get full approval because of the extraordinary amount of positive data."
Stephanopoulos also asked Fauci to clarify the need for booster shots after the CDC and Food and Drug Administration said a booster shot is not necessary at this time, following an announcement from Pfizer about the need for a third shot of its COVID-19 vaccine 6 to 12 months after individuals are fully vaccinated.
"So there's a lot of dynamic things going on right now," Fauci responded. "Though the CDC and the FDA correctly said right now we don't feel you need a booster. That doesn't mean that we're not very -- very actively following and gathering all of this information to see if and when we might need it and -- if and when we do -- we'll have everything in place to do it."
"The CDC put out guidance this week urging all schools to open this fall. They said masks are not necessary for fully vaccinated students and teachers. But they left most of the key decisions on issues like distancing and whether to wear masks up to the local school districts. That's led to some confusion. Should the guidance be more specific and strict?" Stephanopoulos asked Fauci.
"The guidance I think is pretty explicit there, George," Fauci responded, adding that school districts should implement social distancing, testing or enforce any guidelines recommended from the CDC that they see as fit to keep schools open and safe.
"The bottom line is we need to get the children back in school, in-person classes in the fall," Fauci continued. "But also to do it safely for the children."