Reaching natural herd immunity in the United states would mean “so much suffering and death in the country, it would be unacceptable,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told SirusXM’s Doctor Radio Reports on Friday.
“We only have 10% or a little bit more of the population that has already been infected, and we have 225,000 deaths,” Fauci said. “If you want to get to a 75% protection, just multiply that and you see how many deaths you have to have to have herd immunity through natural infection.”
“What you need is a combination of a heavy, heavy element of vaccine-induced protection, together with the protection that those who unfortunately have already been infected have,” Fauci said. “That’s the reason why a vaccine is so important in a much safer approach towards herd immunity.”
Fauci also discussed the importance of “equitable” vaccine distribution.
“Obviously the first ones are going to be health care providers, but then also we're going to have people who are frontline essential workers, and then those who are vulnerable – people with underlying conditions,” Fauci said.
“We know from painful experience with this pandemic that our minority populations, our Latinx and our African Americans, are especially vulnerable because of the prevalence of their underlying conditions,” he said. “You’ve got to access them and get them to be vaccinated, when we get a safe and effective vaccine.”