Aug 14, 2020
Matthew McConaughey & Dr. Anthony Fauci Live Q&A Transcript: COVID-19
Matthew McConaughey held a live Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the coronavirus pandemic on August 13. Read the transcript of the conversation here.
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Matthew McConaughey: (00:00)
Oh, look at that. It worked. Electrickery. Success. A green light. This is my first time hosting an IG live. Thanks for everybody for being here. I’m going to do a few things. [inaudible 00:00:14] We’re going to have a great talk. Where we got those. Aha. Here’s my… Waiting for… Help everyone’s going good out there, taking care of yourself and your loved ones as much as possible. Crazy times, huh? Yeah, I hear ya. There he is. Dr. Fauci. Thank you for being here today with me.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (00:50)
My pleasure, Mr. McConaughey. Thank you for having me.
Matthew McConaughey: (00:54)
Really looking forward to this. We have no more than an hour, and I think that will be the biggest challenge. I know for my end, is keeping this under an hour because I feel like I could have a good time talking to you and find out some info for much longer than that. But to get started, I want to give everybody out there some context of my involvement in this interview.
Matthew McConaughey: (01:12)
First off, this is not a political conversation for me. I’m not here to take a side on any half of the political aisle. I am here to ask Dr. Fauci questions, many of which I’ve written down, hopefully to get some scientific answers from you, the top infectious disease expert in America. A man who is also the lead member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Addressing COVID-19. My hope is to leave this meeting with a more defined roadmap for all of us going forward, a roadmap of where and how we Americans should collectively march onward and forward in this COVID crisis. That’s my goal, to get some science and some certainty, because I, like many of you out there, I’m still kind of confused about a lot of stuff. So Dr. Anthony Fauci, thanks for your time.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (01:57)
Good to be with you. Let’s do it.
Matthew McConaughey: (01:59)
All right, so to start off I figured we’d do some true and false questions, sort of myth busters, fast finders. This will be a quicker round. We can go through these. If we get through these, have some more time, I’ve got some longer questions I have. But to start off, let’s just clear it up, how the virus is transmitted, and can you get it from surfaces or only via air?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (02:21)
It’s transmitted predominantly by the respiratory route. Droplets are aerosolized from one person to another. It is conceivable, but very unlikely, that you can get it from fomites. Fomites means inanimate objects; doorknobs, computer, whatever.
Matthew McConaughey: (02:39)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (02:40)
It can occur, but it is the very minor component of transmission. Overwhelmingly, it’s person to person through the respiratory group.
Matthew McConaughey: (02:49)
Got it. So that original theory of, “Hey, it lives on surfaces for 72 hours.” That was just a number and that was just a number that was thrown out there?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (02:57)
No, it can. Actually, what investigators have done is that they’ve gone and shown that you can get it off surfaces, off cloth for 72 hours. What hasn’t been shown is that it is an inoculum that’s large enough to actually transmit. So it is absolutely true that you can isolate it from doorknobs, steel, chrome, or what have you, for up to 72 hours. But we don’t think that that is a major modality of transmission.
Matthew McConaughey: (03:28)
Got it. Second one. So it is a respiratory virus and that’s how it’s majorly being a spread. So we know that. That’s a fact. Why not make a mask mandate across the United States and fine people for not wearing masks if that’s how you get it?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (03:48)
Well, yeah. You make a really good point. That is the subject of a lot of debate. And the reason is that, first of all, my recommendation, as you probably know, because I’ve said it publicly so many times, is that absolutely we should have universal wearing of masks. The difficulty with mandates is that there tends to be a pushback about do you have to waste time enforcing it? Or can you really use the power of persuasion from the leadership, everybody doing it, because it’s so important? And there’s a debate whether you get any extra mileage out of mandating it. For myself, personally, I would say everybody should have to use it.
Matthew McConaughey: (04:28)
Okay. Next one. Is it true that type A blood is more likely to get sick than the type O, or less?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (04:35)
The answer is yes, Matthew. But it’s such a slight difference that it isn’t something where people with type A need to start worrying a lot. The difference between one blood type of the other is significant, but minuscule.
Matthew McConaughey: (04:49)
Okay. Does Advil make the virus worse?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (04:53)
Matthew McConaughey: (04:54)
Advil make the virus worse?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (04:57)
No, it doesn’t.
Matthew McConaughey: (04:59)
No? [crosstalk 00:05: 00].
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (05:01)
It’s a bad enough virus to begin with.
Matthew McConaughey: (05:03)
Okay. It doesn’t need Advil’s help. Okay.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (05:06)
Matthew McConaughey: (05:06)
If you have the antibodies and you already had COVID, can you get it twice? And if so, how would a vaccine be effective to that person, that individual?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (05:16)
Yeah. Good question. If you have antibodies that are neutralizing, it will block the virus. What we don’t know is how long after you recover from infection those antibodies last and whether or not you have antibodies that are very powerful, because some antibodies, they’re antibodies to the virus, but they’re not very protective. The ones that are really protective are called neutralizing antibodies. Related to your question about the virus, the vaccine, when you vaccinate somebody, we’ve shown in the early studies, which are now being much more enlarged, that when you vaccinate somebody with the vaccines that are being used now, that are in clinical trial, you reduce a level of antibody that’s equivalent to, if not greater than, what you get with natural infection. Which is a strong predictive that for at least a finite period of time, you will be protected. What we don’t know, because we’ve only been doing this for six months, is how long that protection lasts.
Matthew McConaughey: (06:17)
Right. Okay. Helpful. What are the possible longterm effects of this virus that nobody’s really talking about right now?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (06:26)
That is a really good question. And the thing that we need to know when you’re dealing with an evolving outbreak is that we’ve got to be humble and flexible in realizing that this is a work in progress. We’re learning more and more about it. Weeks go by. But to your specific question, we’re starting to see more and more people who apparently recover from the actual viral part of it and then weeks later they feel weak, they feel tired, they feel sluggish, they feel short of breath. It’s a chronic projection forward of symptoms, even though the virus is gone. And we think that’s probably an immunological effect. It’s very disturbing because if this is true for a lot of people, then just recovering from this may not be okay. You may have weeks where you feel not exactly correct.
Matthew McConaughey: (07:19)
Right. Inhaled generic budesonide protects from secondary bacterial infection and the use of zinc does interfere with the virus replication of code.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (07:36)
All of that in vitro can work, but there is no evidence now that what you mentioned has any clinical effect. The thing that happens a lot which confuses people, you get viruses, you put them in a plate or in a culture and you throw all kinds of things in there. And many compounds suppress the replication. But when you get to a clinical trial and you give it to people with the disease, more often than not, those things don’t have any beneficial effect. Some do, because if something is going to work in vivo, it likely will work in a test tube. But there are many more things that work in the test tube that don’t work in the body.
Matthew McConaughey: (08:19)
Okay. Is there any downside to… There are people that believe that budesonide and taking zinc is working, is there any downside to doing it?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (08:32)
You know, there’s a placebo effect to make you feel better and less anxious, but in reality, Matthew, it doesn’t have any effect. Right?
Matthew McConaughey: (08:40)
Okay. Here you go. We Americans who flock to beaches, bars and rallies are putting our fellow citizens at risk, especially elders? True or false?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (08:51)
Right. That is true.
Matthew McConaughey: (08:53)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (08:54)
That’s totally true.
Matthew McConaughey: (08:55)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (08:56)
And that’s one of the messages we have to keep getting across, because most of the people who do that are young, healthy, and if they wind up getting infected, it’s unlikely that they’re going to get seriously ill. So there’s this misperception that says, “Hey, if I get infected, I’m in a vacuum. I’m not hurting anybody. Let me worry about myself.” That’s completely incorrect.
Matthew McConaughey: (09:20)
[crosstalk 00:09:20] What happens when they go home to grandma?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (09:21)
Yeah, exactly. Or grandpa or someone’s wife who’s on chemotherapy for breast cancer or an immunodeficient child.
Matthew McConaughey: (09:30)
Or immunodeficient child. Good. Thank you for that. Just clear this up, and it’s on this subject, how, if you’re asymptomatic, can you spread it? Like you said, a lot of people are asymptomatic. A lot of these youth that are out there. How can you spread it? Just let’s remind us again.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (09:47)
Another really good question, Matthew, because when you look at the level of virus in the nasal pharynx of someone who’s symptomatic versus without symptoms, the level is exactly the same. So you can make the assumption that even though you’re without symptoms, you can spread it. And as a matter of fact, we know from pretty good studies that asymptomatic people can drive the transmission of this virus.
Matthew McConaughey: (10:15)
Can drive the… Yes. Okay. True or false, sunlight kills the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (10:24)
It does. That’s a truism. That’s one of the reasons why outside in the sun, when you are interacting, that that is much, much better than being inside.
Matthew McConaughey: (10:36)
Again, stay out of the recirculated air. It’s better to be outside and in the open air, sunlight better than more recirculated air inside.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (10:44)
Exactly. And that’s the reason why one of the four or five things that we say are important is outside is always better than inside. And that’s why when restaurants open, if they open, you encourage tables that are outside and separated from each other.
Matthew McConaughey: (11:00)
Is this why you think that so many of the island countries have such low numbers? Because-
Matthew McConaughey: (11:03)
… Is this why you think that so many of the island countries have such low numbers, because they have more of an outdoor lifestyle?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (11:06)
It’s quite conceivable that, that’s the case. Absolutely. Yeah.
Matthew McConaughey: (11:10)
Okay. So, why are kids not getting as sick as adults?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (11:16)
Yeah, that’s really a good question that we do not know the answer to that. There are four or five hypotheses. One of the hypotheses, is that since this virus is a coronavirus, which is just a class of viruses. There are four coronaviruses that are the 30% of all of the common colds that you and I have gotten when we were kids, over and over again. It is conceivable that the children who likely more recently had these coronavirus infections, that were benign, they have residual immunity that’s protecting them, not from getting infected, but protecting them from getting sick. That’s one hypothesis that I think is quite reasonable.
Matthew McConaughey: (12:02)
Okay. Okay, and even they could be asymptomatic and spread it to an elder, or someone with immune deficiency?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (12:10)
Without a doubt [crosstalk 00:00:12:11].
Matthew McConaughey: (12:11)
Young age. Yes. Okay. [crosstalk 00:12:12] All right. Another one for you. If everyone in the world actually contracts the disease, what happens to it? Does it go away on its own? What happens if everybody [crosstalk 00:01:24].
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (12:24)
No. Well, if everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people who are without symptoms, Matthew, a lot of people are going to die. Because, even though … And this is the big misperception that causes so much difficulty in messaging to young people, is that people who are elderly and people at any age who have an underlying condition, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease. If you look at the United States of America, with our epidemic of obesity as it were, with the number of people with hypertension, with the number of people who have diabetes. If everyone got infected, the death toll would be enormous, and totally unacceptable. And that’s the reason why we are against saying, “Let it fly. Let everybody get infected and we’ll be fine.” That’s a bad idea.
Matthew McConaughey: (13:23)
And that’s a reason … Is that also a reason why particularly America, as America we’re saying that, because we have such high rates in those susceptible people?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (13:31)
Well, absolutely. I mean, if you look at just people who are obese with diabetes and hypertension, you’re talking about a substantial proportion of the population. Yeah.
Matthew McConaughey: (13:41)
Yep. All right, another question. Why did Asia and the rest of the world slow down, but America seems to be far behind? Are the numbers being reported accurately, or is there some meat behind the fact that Asia’s numbers have slowed down? [crosstalk 00:02:56].
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (13:58)
There are multiple, as you know, multiple countries in Asia, each with a little bit of a different factors involved. However, what they did, which is not exactly what we did. When they shut down Matthew, they shut down like bang, everything [crosstalk 00:14:15] out. And it went down to a very, very low baseline. When we shut down, if you look at the tracking of the number of people who didn’t go to their jobs, the number of visits to grocery stores, the number of visits to public places. We shut down, but it was never in the level that the Asian countries did.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (14:36)
So our baseline, and this is the critical issue. We went up, and instead of going all the way down, we plateaued at 20,000 cases a day, which is completely unacceptable. And then, when we started to do things which were understandable and appropriate, let’s open up America again, according to the guidelines. What happened is that we didn’t do that in a uniform way. Some states did it better than others, some groups. So what happened, is that as we started to open, it went up to 30,000, 40, 50, 60, and we peaked at 70,000 a day. We’re down now to 50, but we should have gone all the way down to practically nothing, and we didn’t.
Matthew McConaughey: (15:23)
We were a bit tardy, yeah. I’m going to come back to that subject here shortly, but before so, I want to ask a few more of these quicker questions. True or false, we are a minimum of six months from a vaccine, but more likely we are a year or more out from getting a vaccine.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (15:40)
No, likely the end of this current year, the beginning of 2021, moderate numbers of doses will be available. As we get well into 2021, we should have enough for everybody.
Matthew McConaughey: (15:53)
Okay. A vaccine does not mean immunity. Can you just explain that? The basics of that? A lot of people think, “Oh, a vaccine, that means we’ve got it licked.” It doesn’t mean immunity. Can you explain that?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (16:04)
It does mean immunity Matthew, but it means that it’s not perfect. There are very few vaccines that are … In fact, there are no vaccines that are 100% effective. Vaccines like measles are 97, 98% effective. If we get 50 to 70% effective with this vaccine, I will be very pleased.
Matthew McConaughey: (16:23)
50 to 70% effective will be pleasing?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (16:28)
Yes, and you know why? Because then [crosstalk 00:16:30] we could combine it with public health measures.
Matthew McConaughey: (16:35)
Okay. 50 to 70%. Okay. We’re batting 500 with this vaccine, you’re happy, as far as numbers go. I got you. Okay. Here you go. This is something that I found on the internet that some people have a question about. Do you have millions of dollars invested in a vaccine?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (16:59)
Matthew, no. I got zero. I’m a government worker. I have a government salary. That’s it.
Matthew McConaughey: (17:05)
All right. Well let’s talk, segue into some other things. Some longer, maybe forum question, answers, discussions. Let’s talk America. We’ve got a lot going on right now in particular, in this time in history. We have high unemployment. We have a Black Lives Matter movement, a presidential race, COVID. For our conversation, continue this, I’m going to try and stick to the COVID related questions, but they do inevitably overlap. And the first question is this, is it fair to say, in looking at the rear view mirror and looking in our rear view mirror, that as a country USA messed up in our initial response to COVID? You touched on it earlier about, “Oh, we were late to respond and we didn’t throw out a full mandate.” Can you talk about that? Do you think in looking at the rear view mirror, we could have responded better and how?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (17:53)
Yeah, well first general answer. Absolutely, you could always have done better, for sure. Anybody says they did it perfectly is not facing reality. But you’re right. There were certain missteps early on with the testing issue, which we finally corrected. There were some things we did really well. There are. There were some things we moved well, we moved appropriately. The thing that is of concern back then to me, now, and unless we correct it in the future. We need to pull together in a uniform way, because when you have the dynamics of an outbreak Matthew, if you have one weak link in the chain, you don’t win the game. It just will not work.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (18:40)
We’ve got to pull as a nation. And one of the things that’s our handicap, is that the good news is that we’re independent people. [crosstalk 00:18:49] And that’s the kind of thing … Yeah, we’re individual. We don’t like authority very much. We don’t like to be told what to do. And in the divisive year that you said, and anybody who doesn’t think it’s divisive is not paying attention, is that you have, it’s almost like there’s public health and then there’s other things. The public health should be a mechanism to open the country. Some people think it’s an obstacle to opening up the country. That’s a complete misinterpretation. You should use public health measures to help you to safely open up the country.
Matthew McConaughey: (19:28)
Amen. Yes. Yeah, I’ve … Myself, like a lot of people, have been more than disillusioned, actually quite full of rage at how the COVID has been politicized, all the way from the wearing a mask. If you wear a mask, you’re on the left. If you want to quarantine, you’re on the left. You want to go to work … You don’t wear a mask, you’re on the right. And people in this time psychologically, are looking for identity and purpose. We’re in a big time of unknown, and man, so many people have become disillusioned with our leadership. But also so many people have fervently clinged to the fringes in the extremes of the right and left, which has caused a further divide and a lack of unity that you’re talking about. There is no coalition, as at present, about how to move forward, individually and as a collective. Not enough of us are seeing it, I don’t believe, as a civic duty and not a [crosstalk 00:20:24] breach on our individuality.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (20:25)
Right, you said it very well. The one thing that gets lost in this, is that when you look upon yourself and your choice of doing what you want to do, even if you don’t care that you get infected. You are part of the propagation of the outbreak. So what you are, is you’re part of the problem instead of part of the solution. And the ironic thing Matthew, is that the quicker you pull together and get it down, the quicker you’re going to get back to normal.
Matthew McConaughey: (20:53)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (20:53)
It just doesn’t make any sense to pit one against the other.
Matthew McConaughey: (20:58)
Early pain, early in convenience, bear down, everybody, team up, longterm game.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (21:04)
Matthew McConaughey: (21:05)
More freedom coming up sooner, for all [crosstalk 00:10:07]. Yeah.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (21:09)
Matthew McConaughey: (21:09)
It’s a very selfish and selfless thing to do, at the same time. We are [crosstalk 00:21:14], we take care of ourselves. It’s good for us, but it’s also good for everybody. Yeah, I think I agree with you. I’d like us to all understand that, and actually get mad at that fact, and take action on that collectively. So, we talked about it a little bit, and you said, “Yeah, we could have done things better. You can always look back and say you could do things better.” I agree on almost all fronts. We should always be able to look back and go, “There’s a way we could have done this better.” But let’s talk about then, lean back into what we just talked about. How do we turn this page? How do we turn the page and quit swirling in limbo right now? And how do we do that? You mentioned it, let’s just repeat that a bit.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (21:54)
Yeah, we’ve got to do it by realizing that we are all in this together, and unless we do it together, we’re not going to …
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (22:03)
And unless we do it together we’re not going to get this under control because what we’re going to see, Matthew, is continually. So you had the outbreak in the southern states. Florida, Texas, Arizona, California. They finally, after they saw the big surge, did things to turn it around. So if you look at the numbers now, they’re going in the right direction. However, there are other States now that are starting to have that little uptick in percent positive. That’s a surefire predictor that if you don’t do something about it, it’s going to take off. And if we don’t, we’re going to have another up and down. So the one thing we want to avoid is get hit, do okay, then get hit, do okay. That’s a losing proposition. We’ve got to all do it at the same time and get it down.
Matthew McConaughey: (22:57)
Heard. Okay. Been a lot of confusion with the science and protocol, which is one of the reasons I’m happy to be talking today. Let’s get some clear mandates here about how we can all go forward. There’s been a lot of confusion. It’s like we’ve all been waiting for science to catch up. Actually politics has been leading the science through this, it seems. Why is there no scientific consensus for so long? And where is the leadership and the unifying voice? I mean, we’re all looking for a place to go. We’re here in different things. It’s very confusing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (23:32)
Yeah. It’s confusing, Matthew, beacuse I think a lot of people don’t understand, and that’s quite reasonable why they wouldn’t understand, is that if we were dealing with a static situation, what you learn today, the data and the facts and the evidence, wouldn’t change your opinion or your recommendation. When you’re dealing with something that’s an evolving situation like an outbreak, what people don’t understand is that science is self-correcting. So when you’re in February and March and you’re looking at the facts that you have, you make some recommendations and policy. What happens is that, as things evolve, you get more data and more evidence and what you need to do, you’ve got to be flexible and humble enough to say, “You know, based on the data I have now, what I was doing back then wasn’t perfect. I need to course correct.” And that’s the beauty of science, Matthew, because it’s self correcting. When people see that they can say, “Well, you were wrong two months ago.” No. What you were doing, you were acting on the data that you had at the time.
Matthew McConaughey: (24:46)
Yes. That’s a good way to put it and I think a good thing for all of us out there. It may be obvious to a lot of people, but just that vernacular of saying science is self-correcting. And also we are dealing with a constantly evolving situation, a moving target. It is an invisible moving target. I spoke and put out a PSA earlier about, I think our general human reaction when we have an enemy or something that’s going to trespass and affect our own is to go out and meet it, which is exactly the opposite of what we need to do to beat this enemy. This enemy wants us in hand to hand combat. And it’s a different psyche that we have to understand. It’s a different kind of offense, what we consider playing defense. It’s a different kind of offense to play the beat this enemy.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (25:39)
Right. I like the way you put that, Matthew. In fact, give me permission to use it.
Matthew McConaughey: (25:45)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (25:45)
It’s a good metaphor, it really is.
Matthew McConaughey: (25:48)
Good. Good, good, good. So when COVID came on, this question is going to lean a bit into politics. When COVID came on I saw a possible upside of it being something that would unify our country in a common purpose to defeat a unanimous enemy that we all want to beat. But it seems, at present and so far, that the opposite has happened. Even the simple question of wearing a mask to stop the spread has further put us in this awkward struggle to sort of learn the dance steps between economic survival and biological survival. As a doctor, as a scientist, is it clear to you about which we should choose? The biological or the economic? Or is that also a continuous evolving situation, moving target?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (26:49)
Yeah. It’s complicated, but I’ll make it simple, Matthew. It’s a good way to juxtapose them. You will never get a good marching back economically unless you control the biologic. You have to be able to control it. And one of the problems is, in your understandable zeal to quickly get back to normal and revive the economy, you can do it if you do it in a measured, prudent way. The lesion that we’ve seen was the jumping over the benchmarks and the guideposts that had been put forth. So to think that you could ignore the biologic and get the economy back, it’s not going to happen. It’s just not going to happen. You’ve got to do both. You’ve got to get control of the biologic as you carefully open the country.
Matthew McConaughey: (27:48)
Control of the biologic. Yeah. Let’s talk sports for a minute. There’s a lot of talk around what state schools, conferences think it’s okay to play, what sports should be played. Very basically, what’s the medical risk that is maybe… its own. How does the playing of sport have its own individual risk, and what are they with the spread of the virus? And are there safer sports to play than others?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (28:30)
There are, yeah. Good question. One sport versus another, and where the sport is played, and college versus pro, where they travel, college travel or you have a high school that stays in the same County. There’s a big difference. So the fundamental potential problem is that in sports, particularly contact sports, but in many club type sports, you have the congregation of people together, which can cause what we call super spreader events. Super spreader events means not that one person is spreading it all around but that one person gets infected and then you have a team of 30 or 40 people. They get infected, many of them because they’re going to be young, Matthew, which means they’re not going to get a lot of them sick. They then go out into the community and then you wind up with community spread. When you get communities spread, then you ultimately wind up getting to the vulnerable people who are going to get into trouble.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (29:37)
Now, that’s the general principle. The individual things of how you could mitigate that is that some professional sports do this kind of bubble. You can afford it, test everybody, get them in a bubble every single day. No problem. One person gets infected, yank them out. When you’re dealing with sports like in high school, there’s a difference between tennis and cross country versus football and rugby because you add that kind of contact. So the other last point is it depends where you are. If you’re in a high school, in a green zone, and green means you have less than 5% positivity and less than 10 cases per 100,000 population, you could probably do sports the same way as you open the schools, with relative impunity so long as you’re careful, you try to keep the distance, you get tested every once in awhile.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (30:33)
If you’re in a red, hot zone where the level of virus is so high. Sure, you can try to do sports normally but the chances are you’re going to get people infected and it’s not going to be easy to do. That’s the reason why you see a lot of differences. Where you are, what the team is, is it professional, do they travel? The one thing you need to keep in mind is you have to pay attention and make your primary objective the safety, the health, and the welfare of the athletes and the personnel.
Matthew McConaughey: (31:10)
I understand that, but I would ask you, is there an argument within what you just said that, hey, green zones are not immune zones. They’re places with low numbers. What if the green zones turn into red zones?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (31:26)
It could, that’s the point. That’s the reason why it’s much easier… Your question now is a great question, Matthew, because it relates to three or four of your other questions that you asked, they’re connected. Because in a green zone the chance of your being able to control an individual infection is so much greater than when you’re in a zone where there’s community spread, because once you get an infection you have no idea where it’s coming from because it’s all over the community. It’s the same answer to opening the schools in a green zone versus a red zone.
Matthew McConaughey: (32:04)
Understood. Okay. Still risky, but more controllable. Okay. We talked about this for a second. You mentioned it when we talked about how to do it safely, and this goes on. Can those risk of playing the sport, can it be mitigated by testing? For instance, at my alma mater, University of Texas in Austin, the athletics department is testing twice a week, EKG, echocardiogram, heart MRI, as well as isolating groups and wearing masks. The Big 12, our conference just said, “Yes. Let’s go forward and play football.” My school, other schools, is that good enough testing to control the situation, in your opinion?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (32:47)
Yeah. What they likely will do, Matthew, is that they will test everybody first to make sure that you start off on an even playing field, and then they will do it intermittently. That is probably the best they can do. If they are lucky, which I hope they are…
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (33:03)
…They can do. If they are lucky, which I hope they are, because I’d love to see the sports that people enjoy, particularly in this time of stress, they could get away with it. They almost certainly are going to have a situation where somebody is going to get infected. The way they deal with it, how quickly they identify it, how quickly they get the person out of the pack and taken care of them will determine whether they can go through the season. Right now, baseball is struggling because either they really did the right thing. They were very, very careful in their protocol. Then we had the Miami Marlins situation and then the St. Louis Cardinals.
Matthew McConaughey: (33:41)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (33:42)
That’s right, exactly, where they had to cancel games. So it’s rocky. I hope they can complete the season. But boy, it’s give and take and really touch and go.
Matthew McConaughey: (33:57)
So in this conversation, where this conversation is also a moving target, and I really appreciate the context you’re giving me. At the same time I’m hearing this is a better way… How do you control it? A super spreader events, control the biologic that will feed the economic. But we’re still… People are doing it different ways. I want to say, if it goes back to what you said about it, we started this off a mandate, a coalition, everybody unified in how we’re going forward. Do you think that still think the best way to be like, “Hey, what would you say if?” If you had no economic concern right now, would you shut it all- would you say shut it all down. Everybody, mandate, no sports, no school, everybody back, take the tides, put in the pain right now. Let’s hold out through the fall. Let’s make it to 2021 and have a look around and see where the dust settled and how we’re doing and what our numbers are.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (34:54)
Matthew McConaughey: (34:54)
You had no economic interest in the situation which there is an economic reality. The survival that I understand that, but-
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (35:04)
Matthew, it goes beyond the economics. And let me tell you why, because if you shut down, even if there was no economic issue, what happens is that psychologically, it could be devastating. And if you’re really shut down, children may not get their vaccinations. People don’t go to hospitals when they get chest pain, people who follow up because they have an elevated PSA or a mammogram, that’s got something.
Matthew McConaughey: (35:30)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (35:30)
There’s a lot of different things that could go wrong beyond the economy. That’s the reason-
Matthew McConaughey: (35:37)
And outside of COVID.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (35:39)
You get it. And it’s exactly, in fact, there’s projections that if you stay shut down, the number of deaths unrelated to COVID will go up. The number of suicides, overdoses, family issues, such as child abuse and things like that. They all go up. So it goes beyond economic..
Matthew McConaughey: (36:01)
A hundred percent. And you know, we’re having to weigh, continually, day by day, as you just brought up one bad thing for another bad thing and making choices and somehow some way we’re going to take a proverbial hickey and, and take a punch to the gut, no matter which choice we we make.
Matthew McConaughey: (36:26)
So let’s talk about, and let’s turn the page, the page marching orders out of here, what do we know? What are our bullet points that every one of us can say, put this down. This is simple. I expected myself. I expected of you. The crisis is real. It’s … We are not through it. Fact. We’ve got to bear down. Can we bear down everyone together? Can we bear down as a nation, as a people? Can we do that? So far we have not proven we can do that. Can we bear down a really look this in the eye and go, this is a real problem, major problem. And it’s going to be here for a while. We cannot be … I think we’re somewhat in denial of it still because of how it’s invisible in ways. We got to wear a mask. That’s consensus. We agree to that? It’s a fact?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (37:12)
Matthew McConaughey: (37:12)
Wear the damn mask. Wear the damn mask, right? Come on.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (37:15)
Matthew McConaughey: (37:15)
Not taking away the freedom. Wear it as a badge of honor, right?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (37:21)
Matthew McConaughey: (37:21)
Civic duty. For me, for you, for all of us. Come on. Social distance.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (37:26)
Matthew McConaughey: (37:27)
What’s the number? I hear six feet, I hear 18 feet.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (37:31)
At least six, at least six.
Matthew McConaughey: (37:35)
At least six feet.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (37:36)
At least six and, for goodness sakes, stay away from crowds. Just stay away from crowds. Try to be outside much more than inside. When you’re inside open the windows. Let the air in. That’s really important. Wash your hands. And the thing that’s important, and that gets to the idea about responsibility, I mean what I like to do when I’m working, I get home late at night, I love to go a bar with my wife, have a beer, have a hamburger, relax. Give it up, for now. Bars are the hotspot. No hanging out in bars.
Matthew McConaughey: (38:15)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (38:16)
Because we know when the bars get closed the infection goes down. When people just let it rip and go to bars it goes up. You know, I often day, and I don’t mean this to be provocative about it, you know, take your choice. Do you want to open the bars or do you want to open the schools? You know, if you open the bars you’re going to have a community spread that would make it more difficult to open the schools.
Matthew McConaughey: (38:41)
Yep. Yeah, I think we all have to, myself included, have to really understand sort of the appendix we need to individually take right now to get delayed gratification in the future. I think we need to understand, or better understand, the urgency. I think we need to weigh things like that, what do you want to open, the schools or the bars? Weigh those scenarios and there’s no magical answer. There’s not a magic solution here that we’re going to go, “Ah! We’re out the other side if we just did that.” Even if we all do what we need to do we’re going to go through a hard time but we’ll go through it for a much shorter time. If we take more responsibility right now we can have more freedom tomorrow.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (39:25)
You bet. You bet. That’s so well said. Absolutely.
Matthew McConaughey: (39:28)
Come on. Well, look you’re in an awesome position. You are in an awesome position and thank you for doing what you do and thank you for taking the time here today. Self-correcting science in this evolving situation with a moving target that’s not easy to have a hold of every single day, especially with this. I wish you the best of a heart and mind and knowledge and I hope you’re able to share it in ways that can give some clarity. You’ve given me some clarity today and hopeful you’ve given a lot of people out there listening some clarity. We got work to do.
Matthew McConaughey: (40:10)
We got work to do.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (40:12)
Thank you. You’re-
Matthew McConaughey: (40:13)
[crosstalk 00:40:13] pull up our boot straps and do this thing so we can look back on this time, later on, and go boy we took the right responsibilities at the right time and we made this through it as best we could. But would you say it’s fair to say we are at war with the virus?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (40:27)
Oh for sure. I mean, you know, you don’t want to get too metaphoric about it but you know our country has been through some very, very difficult situations. We’ve been through a depression, we’ve been through a world war. I’m old enough to have been a baby during World War II but I remember how the country absolutely pulled together. We pulled together after 9/11. This is equivalent to that, Matthew.
Matthew McConaughey: (40:54)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (40:54)
We’ve got to pull together. Absolutely.
Matthew McConaughey: (40:57)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (40:58)
Matthew McConaughey: (40:59)
I don’t want to say much more. I like that right there. Let’s pull together. We’ll look at each other and we can have our freedom and our party later. Right now let’s pull together and do what we need to do. Thank you Dr. Anthony Fauci for your time. Godspeed sir.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (41:12)
You too. Thank you for having me, Matthew. I appreciate it.
Matthew McConaughey: (41:14)
Yes sir, yes sir.