ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the United States said Sunday that “the undeniable effects of racism” have led to unacceptable health disparities that especially hurt African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has shone a bright light on our own society’s failings,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a graduation ceremony for Emory University.
Speaking by webcast from Washington, Fauci told the graduates in Atlanta that many members of minority groups work in essential jobs where they might be exposed to the coronavirus.
He also said they are more likely to become infected if exposed because of medical conditions such as hypertension, chronic lung disease, diabetes or obesity.
“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.
Fauci on Sunday was awarded the Emory University president’s medal. Previous recipients include former President Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama and the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon. In accepting the award, Fauci denounced the destruction of division.
“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.
Dr. Fauci condemned America’s “undeniable” racism and “societal divisiveness.” Do you AGREE or DISAGREE with these statements? Comment below.
“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.”
Fauci: COVID-19 vaccines the ‘bright light of this extraordinary challenge’
Healio – COVID-19 took center stage at the opening ceremony of the American Thoracic Society International Conference, with a virtual keynote given by Anthony S. Fauci, MD, on lessons learned from the pandemic, a message on vaccination and more.
“Vaccines have been the bright light of this extraordinary challenge that we’ve gone through,” said Fauci.
The U.S. currently has more than 30 million cases and more than 580,000 deaths, and still counting, he said. Since the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the U.S. has experienced a slow decline in daily infections.
“We’ve plateaued at a high level, but … as we get more people vaccinated … the number of daily infections has gone down from an average of 60,000 as a weekly average per day down to about 40,000,” Fauci said.
In early May, President Joe Biden announced a new goal to get 70% of adults in the U.S. at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4th.
“A few weeks ago, I wrote an editorial in Science because there was a misunderstanding in how and why we were able to go from the realization of a new pathogen in January of 2020 to getting doses of vaccines in the arms of individuals of a highly efficacious vaccine 11 months later. Truly, an unprecedented accomplishment.
“But, as I said in the editorial, the speed and efficiency in which these highly efficacious vaccines were developed and their potential to save millions of lives are due to an extraordinary multidisciplinary effort involving basic, preclinical and clinical science that had been underway, out of the spotlight, for decades before the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said … Click here to read more.