Dr. Fauci joins Gov. Northam, community leaders for virtual discussion on pandemic health equity, COVID-19 vaccine


(WAVY/WRIC) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and other community leaders for a virtual discussion about COVID-19 and health equity.

The conversation covered the pandemic’s impact on minorities and what’s being done to bridge the gap. They also discussed vaccine distribution.

The webinar was part of the “Facts & Faith Fridays” series.

Fauci said the United States is the worst hit country in the world, with 21.3 million cases of the coronavirus and nearly 360,000 deaths from the virus.

During the conversation, Fauci said Black and brown communities have especially felt the effects of the coronavirus.

These populations are more likely to become infected with COVID-19  and to be hospitalized because of it. The death rate is also higher among diverse groups.

“In general, when you look at the occupations and living conditions of Black and brown people, it often puts them out in situations out in the community,” Fauci said.

We’re told oftentimes these factors are associated with more face-to-face interactions, meaning a greater risk of infection.

Fauci said the key to preventing this is the COVID-19 vaccine, especially distributing it in communities of color. However, he also said there’s a degree of understandable skepticism in minority communities.

“History tells us they have not always been treated fairly by the federal government in their medical approaches,” Fauci said.

Northam said he’s committed to health equity in the commonwealth.

“I can’t change the past but I can say that we working hard to earn trust in diverse communities,” he said.

Northam and Fauci are encouraging faith leaders to be partners in dispelling rumors.

“You are trusted leaders in your communities and you can be a huge help in getting the word out that vaccines are safe and that people should take them,” Northam said.

Fauci said one reason the vaccine was developed so quickly is because they had research from previous vaccines to help them move forward. He also said advances in technology helped them develop the vaccine in months, whereas previously it would have taken years.

He said the current vaccine doesn’t have an active virus in it. Instead, Fauci said the vaccine uses an mRNA to help cells develop a piece of the “spike protein” that is unique to SARS-CoV-2. In layman’s terms, the vaccine gives your body instructions for stopping COVID-19.

Fauci said the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel.

“If we get that overwhelming majority of people vaccinated, I think we can start approaching a reasonable degree of normality towards the mid-fall of 2021,” he said.

Fauci said until herd immunity is reached through vaccination, social distancing and mask use must continue.

Watch the full discussion here:

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