Fauci tells Georgia Tech students more work needed on vaccine access

Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera (left) leads a discussion with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on March 15, 2021. PHOTO CREDIT: GEORGIA TECH.
Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera (left) leads a discussion with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on March 15, 2021. PHOTO CREDIT: GEORGIA TECH.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told Georgia Tech students and faculty Monday he wants to find ways to improve access to the coronavirus vaccine to underserved communities and get more Republicans vaccinated.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talked about the challenges in a virtual question-and-answer session after receiving the school’s annual Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage for his decades of work in public health and leading the federal government’s COVID-19 response effort.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who appeared near the end of the conversation, called Fauci a “hero in truth” for his assessments about the dangers of COVID-19 despite criticism from many Americans, including then-President Donald Trump.

“I took no pleasure in being in conflict with the president of the United States,” Fauci said. “That is not something I seek to do. It is something that sometimes is necessary because you have to stick with the truth and maintain your integrity. That was not an easy thing to do, but I had to do it.”

Polling by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other organizations has found resistance to getting the vaccine greater among Republicans, which Fauci called “puzzling.”

“Hopefully, we can get into a productive dialogue about that,” Fauci said of the hesitancy.

Fauci talked about ways to increase vaccine access to Black and Hispanic communities, such as providing more doses to pharmacies in those communities.

Fauci also insisted there’s no difference in the effectiveness of any of the three vaccines approved by the federal government for emergency use.

“You shouldn’t be trying to compare one with the other, only if they were used head-to-head in similar clinical trial, which didn’t occur,” he said.

Fauci said more investments are needed in science domestically and globally. He urged students to pursue careers in science near the end of his discussion.

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