Oct 20, 2021
White House COVID-19 Task Force, Dr. Fauci Press Conference Transcript October 20
Dr. Fauci, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team & Task Force held a press briefing on October 20, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Jeff Zients: (00:00)
Good morning and thanks for joining us. Today I’ll first turn to Doctors Walensky and Fauci to cover the state of the pandemic and the importance of vaccinations. Then Dr. Murphy and I will provide an update on the work we’re doing to prepare for potential vaccinations for kids ages five through 11. Over to you, Dr. Walensky.
Dr. Walensky: (00:22)
Thank you Jack. Good morning, everyone. Let’s begin with an overview of the data. As of yesterday, the seven-day daily average of cases was about 75,500 cases per day, which represents a decrease of about 16% over the prior week. The seven-day average of hospital admissions was about 6,000 per day, also a decrease of about 11% from the prior week. And the seven-day average of daily deaths were about 1200 per day, a decrease of about 3% from the previous week.
Dr. Walensky: (00:53)
Throughout the pandemic, CDC has continuously kept the country and the world updated with the most recent data, information, and science. A critical way we do this is through CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, a public data dashboard with information on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccinations broken down by race, ethnicity, gender, age, and many other demographics. And most of the data is available at the county level.
Dr. Walensky: (01:25)
Recently, CDC added new data on our COVID Data Tracker that reports COVID-19 outcomes by vaccination status. Here you can see some of the data that we are now posting to COVID Data Tracker. In August, as we were experiencing the peak of the Delta surge, 16 jurisdictions provided data on cases and deaths stratified by vaccination status. Unvaccinated people had 6.1 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19, shown on the left, and 11.3 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19, shown on the right, when compared of those who are fully vaccinated shown by the light blue line at the bottom.
Dr. Walensky: (02:09)
As you’ve heard me say before, vaccination prevents hospitalizations due to COVID-19. On COVID Data Tracker, we are also displaying the age adjusted rates of COVID-19 associated hospitalizations by vaccination status in adults over the age of 18. For the week ending August 28th, 2021, the hospitalization rate in fully vaccinated people was 4.5 per hundred thousand shown by the green line, while the hospitalization rate in unvaccinated people was 83.6 per hundred thousand shown by the blue line, an 18.5 fold increase in hospitalizations for those who are unvaccinated.
Dr. Walensky: (02:52)
For all age groups, the COVID-19 associated hospitalization rate is markedly higher in those who are unvaccinated. 14 times higher for those age 18 to 49 years old, 15 times higher for those age 50 to 64 years old and nine times higher for those 65 and older. In addition to these updates on CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, we have new data to understand vaccine induced protection for our teens. Yesterday, we released a study in the MMWR, displaying the power of vaccination for adolescents age 12 to 18. Our report found that two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was 93% effective in preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations among these adolescents. This evaluation reinforces the importance of vaccination to protect young people and adolescents from COVID-19.
Dr. Walensky: (03:50)
In addition to cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccination status we also continue to collect, analyze, and report data on genomic surveillance of COVID-19 variants on COVID Data Tracker. In the United States, Delta remains the dominant variant with more than 99.7% of sequence cases in the country being caused by Delta. There are new variants that continue to emerge as cases continue to spread. And in particular, the AY4.2 variant has drawn some attention in recent dates. AY4.2 is a sub lineage of Delta variant that has been recently identified in the UK. And we have on occasion identified the sub lineage here in the United States, but not with recent increased frequency or clustering to date.
Dr. Walensky: (04:43)
CDC is continuing to track lineages and sub lineages of Delta and all other variants. Over the past nine months, as we have previously reported, we have ramped up our sequencing capabilities in partnership with local public health and academic institutions. We particularly monitor for sub lineages that could impact therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies and vaccines.
Dr. Walensky: (05:07)
At this time, there is no evidence that the sub lineage AY4.2 impacts the effectiveness of our current vaccines or therapeutics and we will continue to follow up. All of the data I’ve presented today tell a consistent story. Vaccination remains the best public health measure to prevent the spread of the virus and reduce the likelihood of new variants to emerge. Still, too many eligible Americans, about 65 million of them remain unvaccinated leaving themselves and their children, families, loved ones, and communities vulnerable. Please, if you have not yet been vaccinated, join the 189 million Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. Thank you. I’ll now turn things over to Dr. Fauci.
Dr. Fauci: (05:58)
Thank you very much, Dr. Walensky. As you’ve heard from Dr. Walensky the extreme importance of getting vaccinated for COVID-19. So what I thought I would do in the next couple of minutes is put a historical perspective upon what she has just said. Namely what is the historical impact of vaccines in general, domestically and globally, to put it into the context of where we are now with COVID-19. Next slide.
Dr. Fauci: (06:29)
If you look at this slide, it is really striking. It lists the important diseases on the left that used to be extraordinarily important and impactful public health problems here in the United States. And in the second column is the estimated annual average number of cases prior to the vaccine for that particular pathogen. And look at the 2020, namely last year, reported cases of each of those diseases. The far right column shows that anywhere from 97 to a hundred percent diminution in the number of cases, purely as a result of vaccination. Next slide.
Dr. Fauci: (07:17)
Look at that from a different perspective, namely, what are the benefits in disease? So among children born in the USA from 1994 to 2013, these routine child vaccinations prevented an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalization, and an extraordinary 732,000 deaths with the net savings of close to 300 billion in direct costs and over a trillion in societal costs. Next slide.
Dr. Fauci: (07:54)
Now look at it globally throughout the world, not only in the United States. 50 million deaths from 10 pathogens were averted by vaccines given just between the year 2000 and 2019 with some of the prevalent diseases shown in the second bullet. Next slide.
Dr. Fauci: (08:17)
That’s all good news, but what about the sobering news of the under utilization of potentially life saving vaccines? If you look at the estimated annual deaths globally for diseases that are vaccine preventable, you look at what can happen when people, and in this case it’s almost exclusively not vaccine hesitancy, but vaccine lack of availability in certain regions of the world. Look how many people, mostly children, who die of vaccine preventable diseases if they would’ve been vaccinated. 1.2 million for pneumococcus, over a half a million for hepatitis B, and down the line with rotavirus, influenza, pertussis. And remember, these are vaccines that could have prevented disease and death, but were not accessible to these individuals. Next slide.
Dr. Fauci: (09:20)
And so if we look at where we are right now, as you’ve heard about 6.67 billion people have received COVID-19 in the United States, we have over 400 million doses that have been administered. So what is the obvious lesson in all of this as emphasized by Dr. Walensky? Last slide. We have 66 million people in the US who are eligible for vaccine and are not yet vaccinated. You’ve seen in the slides I showed the extraordinary historical impact of vaccine. It is not too late. So please, please get vaccinated. Back to you, Jeff.
Dr. Fauci: (10:02)
Please get vaccinated. Back to you, Jeff.
Jeff Zients: (10:04)
Well, thank you, Doctors Fauci and Walensky.
Jeff Zients: (10:06)
Now let’s move to how we’re planning for vaccinating kids ages five through 11. We expect the FDA and CDC’s decision on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five through 11 in the next couple of weeks. We know millions of parents have been waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine for kids in this age group and should the FDA and CDC authorize the vaccine, we will be ready to get shots in arms. Kids have different needs than adults and our operational planning is geared to meet those specific needs, including by offering vaccinations in settings that parents and kids are familiar with and trust. At the same time, we’re incorporating best practices and applying lessons we have learned across the past nine months. Over the past several weeks, we’ve been working closely with governors, pediatricians, pharmacies, community health centers, rural health centers and other vaccine providers to prepare for this moment. Together, we’re completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids ages five through 11 are available, easy and convenient.
Jeff Zients: (11:21)
And thanks to President Biden and the resources of the American Rescue Plan, states, tribes, territories will all continue to receive unprecedented levels of federal support, including full reimbursement from the federal government for vaccination operations and outreach programs. I want to highlight progress across a few key operational fronts. First on supply, we have secured vaccine supply to vaccinate every child ages five through 11 and as soon as the vaccine is authorized by the FDA, we will begin shipping millions of doses nationwide. States, tribes and territories are working to ensure that doses continue to be distributed efficiently and equitably across their jurisdictions. And importantly, we worked with Pfizer to modify the packaging of the pediatric doses to make it easier for pediatricians, family doctors and other providers to provide vaccines to children. And these vaccine doses will be shipped with all the supplies needed to vaccinate kids, including smaller needles.
Jeff Zients: (12:34)
Next, on getting kids vaccinated. We know parents rely on a range of healthcare providers to meet their children’s needs, including pediatricians, family doctors, children’s hospitals, pharmacies and community and rural health centers. We’re doing the work to ensure parents will be able to get their kids ages five through 11 vaccinated with these trusted providers. We’ve already enrolled more than 25,000 pediatricians, family doctors and other primary care providers to administer vaccines. And we’re working with states and localities to enroll more. As part of the federal pharmacy program, tens of thousands of local pharmacies across the country will offer vaccinations for kids and hundreds of community health centers and rural health centers, which serve millions of kids ages five through 11 across the country, predominantly in underserved communities, will be ready to vaccinate kids. We’re also collaborating with the Children’s Hospital Association to work with more than a 100 children’s hospitals across the country to stand up vaccination sites in their communities.
Jeff Zients: (13:47)
Children’s hospitals will partner with local community and faith based organizations to host vaccination events, including in the evenings and on weekends so parents can get their kids vaccinated at hours that work for them. And to make vaccinating kids even more convenient, we’ll work with state and local education leaders to bring vaccination clinics directly to schools, including by matching pharmacies and other vaccine providers with school districts to set up onsite clinics. By sending vaccines to pediatricians, pharmacies, community health centers and rural health centers, working with children’s hospitals to host vaccination sites including on nights and weekends, helping schools stand up vaccination clinics and deploying mobile clinics to meet families where they are, we will ensure that vaccinations for kids ages five through 11, are easy, convenient and accessible to every family. Importantly, as we’ve done throughout all of our vaccination effort, equity and fairness will be at the center of our pediatric vaccination program.
Jeff Zients: (14:59)
Finally, while many parents are ready to get their kids vaccinated, we know some parents still have outstanding questions. That’s why a key focus of our efforts is raising vaccine awareness and getting parents the facts they need to make the right choice for their kids, including by empowering messengers they trust such as local pediatricians and family doctors. I’ll turn to Dr. Murthy to discuss this in more detail.
Jeff Zients: (15:25)
But before I do that, I want to take a step back. As Dr. Walensky and Dr. Fauci highlighted, vaccines are the very best line of defense against COVID-19, vaccines are safe, effective and the way out of this pandemic. Today, we will hit another marker of progress in our fight against the virus, a 190 million fully vaccinated Americans. That’s more than two out of three eligible individuals, those 12 and older. And if authorized, Pfizer’s vaccine for kids ages five through 11 will make an additional 28 million Americans eligible for vaccination. This will move us further along on our path out of this pandemic. Our top priority remains getting more unvaccinated Americans vaccinated. If you’re unvaccinated, please go get a shot. It’s free, it’s safe, it’s convenient. It’ll make us all safer and keep us on the right track in our fight against the virus.
Jeff Zients: (16:29)
With that, over to you, Dr. Murthy.
Dr. Murthy: (16:33)
Well, thanks so much, Jeff. And it’s good to be you with everyone again today. As Jeff mentioned, we are really looking ahead to this major milestone of an authorized vaccine for kids age five to 11, which the FDA and CDC will discuss in the coming weeks. And I will say that as a parent of a five year old, I’m anxiously awaiting their decision. I also know that many other parents across the country are as well. Now we also know that not all parents have access to a pediatrician or a family doctor to whom they can ask their questions so, as we await the outcome from the FDA and CDC, I want to take some time to share how we plan to equip parents with clear, accurate and science based information from sources they trust.
Dr. Murthy: (17:13)
We’re preparing a national public education campaign that will meet parents where they are with the information about the vaccines. We will work with schools to send letters home to parents. We will convene doctors in health clinics and support them in delivering vaccinations as soon as they have conversations with families. We will provide faith leaders with materials and toolkits that they can distribute to their congregations. We will create forums for parent to ask questions to health experts. And with all of this, we will make sure that we are reaching parents in their language and through the people they trust.
Dr. Murthy: (17:49)
Fortunately, we already have strong connections to parents. Our COVID-19 community corps, which now has over 16,000 members will be a powerful pathway for us to reach parents. And we will also partner with other organizations that have built trust with parents for many years, such as Head Start, the National Parent Teacher Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. And as part of our push to get the word out, we will be announcing the Parents Leadership Corps, a group of well known medical experts, trusted parents and outside stakeholders who will amplify accurate information online and in media appearances.
Dr. Murthy: (18:27)
We need everyone on board for the work ahead of us because every parent should have the information and tools that they need to help keep their kids safe and to help protect the kids under five, who can’t get vaccinated yet. We want parents to know that we share that goal for their kids and that’s why we’re eagerly waiting the FDA’s review of the data on children’s vaccines. We have a lot of reasons to be hopeful. The same vaccine technology has proven to be very effective with adults and adolescents. It’s tested in carefully run trials over the course of months and now we’ve got our nation’s top scientists carefully reviewing the data on its safety and effectiveness. We are all hoping that this process will culminate with the option to vaccinate our children ages five to 11. And if that option becomes available, we will be ready to ensure that everyone has both the information and the access they need to protect their families.
Dr. Murthy: (19:20)
Finally, as we await this decision, the best thing that we can do to protect our children is to get vaccinated ourselves and to wear masks in public spaces. When we take these steps, we serve as a shield between our children and the virus and we remind parents of young kids that we care for all of our nation’s children, even if they’re not our own. Thanks so much for your time today. And Jeff, I’ll pass it back to you.
Jeff Zients: (19:44)
Well thank you, Dr. Murthy. Let’s open it up for questions. Kevin?
Thanks, Jeff. And a reminder, please keep your questions to one question. First, let’s go to Sasha Pezenik at ABC News.
Sasha Pezenik: (20:01)
Hey guys, thank you for taking my question.
Sasha Pezenik: (20:03)
Hey, guys. Thank you for taking my question. Curious, you talked about the lessons that we’ve learned so far with other vaccine rollouts. Last time we announced a plan before the regulators authorized the vaccine was with boosters for all by September 20th. That obviously had some hiccups in it. Is this a similar situation and what happens if federal regulators decide not to vaccinate kids five to 11?
Jeff Zients: (20:30)
No. I think we’re actually doing the right thing here as we did before, which is to make sure that we are operationally ready. To be crystal clear, as I think everybody has emphasized, the decision on authorization is with the FDA and with the CDC. At the same time we want to be ready. This is actually something we learned from the initial rollout during the prior administration, where the vaccine became approved for emergency use by the FDA and CDC, and then the system wasn’t ready to actually put shots in arms.
Jeff Zients: (21:07)
We are going to be ready pending the FDA and CDC decision. That’ll be based on science, but we want to make sure the operations are ready to accommodate kids. As we talked about, the needs are kids are different than adults. At the same time, we need to make sure we have the supply at pharmacies, at children’s hospitals, pediatrician’s offices, family offices, family doctor’s offices, rural clinics, community clinics. That’s a lot of preparation. So we will be ready, but again, it’s all pending FDA and CDC decision. I think the best practice here is to plan ahead so that we can hit the ground running at the time that CDC and FDA make their decision. Next question, please.
Speaker 1: (21:58)
Yamiche at PBS.
Thanks so much for taking my question. Two quick questions. The first is, can you talk a little bit about the administration’s efforts to try to combat partisanship and political views impacting whether or not kids can be vaccinated? We’ve seen that consistently be the case when people are making their decisions about adults, and I wonder what the thoughts are about not letting partisanship impact whether children get these vaccines.
Then the second question I have is, can you quickly just explain a little bit about the weather changes here? I’m seeing states with cold weather are showing a rise in new COVID infections in places like Alaska or Montana. Can you just talk a bit about the administration’s concerns there?
Jeff Zients: (22:40)
Good. Thank you for the two questions. Dr. Murthy, do you want to address the first question and then Dr. Walensky the second?
Dr. Murthy: (22:47)
[inaudible 00:22:47] sounds good. Thanks for that question. The most important thing for us to do with the vaccination effort with kids is to keep our focus on the health of children. This is about public health. It’s not about politics. For many, many years, we have used vaccines as a very powerful tool to save lives. To keep our children healthy. To make schools safer places. That’s what we may have the opportunity to do here based on the FDA and CDCs ultimate recommendations. What we’ve got to do and we’ve laid out the plans for here are to make sure that the people who are carrying this message are in fact, scientists and doctors and public health experts. These are the folks we know parents want to hear from, and we’re working hard to make sure that they get accurate information from voices they trust, because again, it has to be about our kids and our health and their health. That’s what’s got to unite us in this effort to vaccinate children.
Jeff Zients: (23:38)
Dr. Walensky? On the weather?
Dr. Walensky: (23:41)
Right. Great. Thank you. First, we’re really encouraged as we watch the COVID-19 cases come down from this Delta surge in this very moment, but we all know that respiratory viruses and not just COVID or SARS-CoV-2, but RSV, influenza, other coronaviruses tend to thrive in winter months and colder weather. Right now is not the time as cases are coming down to become complacent, because we do know colder weather is ahead of us and we need to do all that we can including vaccinating those 66 million people who have not yet been vaccinated, all we can in our prevention measures and our vaccination efforts to make sure that we don’t become complacent during this period of time.
Jeff Zients: (24:23)
Next question, please.
Speaker 1: (24:25)
Thanks for doing this. Do you have a projection of how many of the 28,000,00 five to 11 year olds in the country can be vaccinated and how quickly that will roll out? Also, is there a sense of sort of the impacts that vaccinating that cohort will have on masking in schools? You can speak to sort of the benefits along those lines. And then separately, Jeff, I was hoping you might be able to address the potential … some of the reporting regarding travel impacts. Different topic. Disruptions at TSA and airlines ahead of the travel season from vaccine mandates. Is the administration-
Jeff Zients: (25:05)
Oops. I think we lost Zeke, but why don’t we start with the number of kids, and then Dr. Walensky I’ll turn to you on schools, and then I’ll come back on I think, the last of Zeke’s questions. Our goal here is to vaccinate as many kids, five to 11 years of age as possible, because we know, as Dr. Walensky will expand upon, that vaccines are our path to accelerate out of this pandemic. We have a supply for 28 million. That’s all kids ages five to 11 years old. There are many families that eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get vaccinated. As Dr. Murthy said, there’s also some families with questions. As we’ve seen with adults, confidence grows across time.
Jeff Zients: (25:54)
At the start of the vaccination program nine months ago, only 34% of adults were eager to get the shot. Today 79% of adults have at least their first shot. So confidence increases across time. Operationally, if authorized, by the FDA and CDC, we will be ready as we talked about. We have the supply. We’ll make it convenient and easy for parents and kids by bringing vaccines to pediatrician’s offices, schools, rural health clinics, pharmacies, and children’s hospitals. We’ll work, as Dr. Murthy said, with trusted messengers for parents and kids to answer their questions. So we expect more and more kids to get vaccinated across time. Dr. Walensky on schools?
Dr. Murthy: (26:40)
Yeah. Maybe just picking up on that. After we have authorization from FDA and recommendations from CDC, we will be working to scale up pediatric vaccination. That said it will take some time. As I just noted, as we head into these winter months, we know we cannot be complacent. We also know from previous data that schools that have had masks in place were three and a half times less likely to have school outbreaks requiring school closure. Right now we are going to continue to recommend masks in all schools for all people in those schools. We will look forward to scaling up pediatric vaccination during this period of time.
Jeff Zients: (27:19)
I believe Zeke’s last question was about the federal mandates and possible impact on holiday travel. Vaccination requirements will not impact holiday travel. First, as we’ve talked about, vaccination requirements work. They’ve increased vaccination rates by 20 plus percentage points to over 90% in most organizations. And as with any deadline, we expect to see an increase in compliance toward the end of that deadline, as we approach the deadline. Point number two is the deadline for federal workers and federal contractors is more than a month away. Federal workers have until November 22nd to get fully vaccinated. The federal contractor deadline’s actually a couple weeks past that. December 8th. Many federal contractors have already stepped up to require vaccination, including most of the major airlines. The third point is for the small number of people who do not comply by the deadline. The first step is a period of education and counseling.
Jeff Zients: (28:29)
It’s important to remember that this is a process and the point here is to get people vaccinated not to punish them. Agencies will not be removing employees from federal service until after they’ve gone through a process of education and counseling. And just like federal agencies, contractors will follow standard processes for accommodations and enforcement among their employees. The bottom line is this, the requirements for federal workers and contractors will not cause disruptions to government services that people depend on. Agencies have the flexibility necessary to enforce the mandate without impacting critical operations. And we all know, as we talked about over and over, getting more people vaccinated and vaccination requirements are very effective tools, will accelerate the path out of the pandemic. Next question.
Speaker 1: (29:24)
Let’s go to Sheryl Stolberg at the New York Times.
Hi. Thank you for taking my question and for doing this call. Two questions. First, we know that the younger the age, the less likely people are to be vaccinated, and ultimately the White House turned to mandates for some adults. I’m wondering, is there a path for you to mandate vaccination for some or all children and would you consider that? And secondly, in following on Sasha’s question, you talked about it’s important to lay plans and be ready for the FDA’s decision, but the criticism at that time for boosters-
… ready for the FDA’s decision. But the criticism at that time for boosters was that the White House in publicizing those plans was presupposing the outcome of the FDA and CDC decision-making and kind of putting its thumb on the scale. And aren’t you doing that again now with kids shots?
Jeff Zients: (30:20)
No, Cheryl, I think I’ll take the second one first. Not at all. I mean, clearly we’ve emphasized from the get-go that this will be driven by the science and the medicine and that’s the expertise and the decision making authority of the FDA and the CDC. That is a different process. And we will await their decision, then getting ready, getting prepared operationally. Governors, working with their teams to make sure that they have the right set of pediatricians and family doctors lined up to receive the vaccine, working with children’s hospitals, making sure that we have the community health centers ready to receive supply and have scheduling systems in place. So getting operationally ready is different from the FDA and CDC decision-making process and we are operationally ready, but the decision on the authorization is clearly with the FDA and the CDC. And I think this is a best practice.
Jeff Zients: (31:19)
This is the right way to do things to be operationally ready. At the same time, obviously differ the science and the decision-making to the CDC and the FDA. And I think we learned that lesson, as I said earlier from the prior administration where the decision was made by the FDA and CDC and the operations weren’t ready. And that meant that adults at the time were not able to receive their vaccines as efficiently, equitably as possible. And this will enable us to be ready for kids.
Jeff Zients: (31:49)
On vaccinations for kids and requirements, first I’ll just start by that’s really about schools and vaccinations and practicing as Dr. Walensky said, proven health measures, including masking, distancing, and ventilation is the best way to keep schools safe. School vaccination requirements have been around for decades and those decisions should be made at the state and local level. We know that in general requirement’s work and we support states and school districts taking actions to ensure that everyone who’s eligible get vaccinated. But again, those decisions should be made at the state and local level. One more question, Kevin.
Dr. Murthy: (32:31)
[crosstalk 00:32:31] can I actually add one thing to your last comment?
Jeff Zients: (32:35)
Dr. Murthy: (32:37)
So Cheryl, to your question, I’ll say I’ll admit two points I just want to emphasize on why we’re making this announcement now as well, which is, as Jeff said, all the preparation that he mentioned takes time. You know, all these conversations we’re having with community organizations, the logistics that have to be set up at doctor’s offices and pharmacies, it takes time. And that’s one of the reasons why this planning has to start so early. It can’t wait until a final decision is rendered, although that final decision is clearly up to the FDA and the CDC. But the second point is that we know that there are many parents out there who are worried about either their kids getting backhanded, who want to make sure that a vaccine will be available to them. They have questions. One of the reason we’re sharing this plan today is we want to speak directly to those parents and let them know that we share their concerns about the health and wellbeing of their children.
Dr. Murthy: (33:26)
And we do have plans that we have been working on to make sure that as soon as that decision is rendered, that there will be vaccine available, that we will work hard to get accurate information to people. And Cheryl, one last thing I want to say, and this is really a request to everyone out there, which is we know one of the barriers and challenges we will face to getting vaccines to children is a similar barrier we face with adults, which is that there is a profound amount of misinformation that is circulating about vaccines. And that’s why we’re making sure that it’s trusted messengers with scientific credibility who go out there and talk about these vaccines.
Dr. Murthy: (34:00)
But it is our collective responsibility, whether we’re in government, in the media, whether we’re individuals to help prevent the flow and spread misinformation online. And so that’s what we’ve got to all remember. We have a role to play in ensuring that parents have accurate information and that’s going to be really one of the keys to making sure that they can get the vaccine and ultimately protect their children. Back to you, Jeff.
Jeff Zients: (34:25)
Thanks Dr. [inaudible 00:34:26]. Kevin?
Last question. Let’s go to Jeremy Diamond at CNN.
Jeremy Diamond: (34:33)
Hey, thanks very much for doing this. So you guys said that you have procured enough of these child sized vials to vaccinate the 28 million children aged five to 11. Are all of those vials ready to ship? And if you could give us a sense of how quickly those would get out the door, how many of those would ship on day one or in the first week? And then secondly, what will the vaccination of these children, five to 11, what kind of impact will that have on your projections of herd immunity and how much do you think it will help us slow the spread? Thank you.
Jeff Zients: (35:09)
Thanks, Jeremy. As I said upfront, we have more than enough vaccine for every child, age five through 11. That’s 28 million in total. As soon as the vaccine is authorized by the FDA. So the first step in the process, that’s when we will begin to ship pending the CDCs decision. We’ll ship about 15 million doses out nationwide in those next few days with millions more going out each and every week to make sure that we’re matching the doses with where they’re most needed, where there’s the greatest demand.
Jeff Zients: (35:47)
So to put the first week’s allocation in perspective, the 15 million going out all in that first week, it took 12 weeks back at the end of 2020 and into 2021, it took 12 weeks to get enough supply out into the field to vaccinate half of the eligible adult population. So we will be doing all of that upfront with millions of more doses each week. So we’re in very, very good shape here. So the bottom line is there will be plenty of supply and we look forward to parents having the opportunity to vaccinate their kids pending the FDA and CDC decision-making. Dr. Fauci on Jeremy’s second question.
Dr. Fauci: (36:32)
Yeah, Jeremy, you bring up a good point. You know, months ago it was felt based on the data with Alpha predominantly that children do not get infected as much. And if they do, they don’t spread the infection in the home setting. A recent paper just came out that actually showed on the contrary. In the era of Delta, children get infected as readily as adults do, and they transmit the infection as readily as the adults do. We may not appreciate that because about 50% of the infections in children are asymptomatic. So specifically to your question about herd immunity, if we can get the overwhelming majority of those 28 million children vaccinated, I think that would play a major role in diminishing the spread of infection in the community. So your question is very relevant and that’s one of the reasons why we want to do as best as we can to get those children from five to 11 vaccinated. Back to you, Jeff.
Jeff Zients: (37:40)
Thank you, Dr. Fauci, and thank you everybody. We look forward to our next briefing.