Fauci says pandemic exposed 'undeniable effects of racism'

The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the United States says “the undeniable effects of racism” have led to unacceptable health disparities

“COVID-19 has shone a bright light on our own society’s failings,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a graduation ceremony for Emory University.

“Now, very few of these comorbidities have racial determinants,” Fauci said. “Almost all relate to the social determinants of health dating back to disadvantageous conditions that some people of color find themselves in from birth regarding the availability of an adequate diet, access to health care and the undeniable effects of racism in our society.”

Fauci said correcting societal wrongs will take a commitment of decades, and he urged the graduates to be part of the solution.

Fauci said that once society returns to “some form of normality,” people should not forget that infectious disease has disproportionally hospitalized and killed people of color.

“Societal divisiveness is counterproductive in a pandemic," Fauci said. “We must not be at odds with each other since the virus is the enemy, not each other.”

He praised the graduates for handling the profound disruption of the pandemic.

“Not since the influenza pandemic of 1918 has humanity faced a public health crisis of this magnitude," he said. "Each of you deserves enormous respect for your extraordinary adaptability, resilience and dedication to learning, completing your studies and graduating despite immense difficulties and uncertainties.”