FULL EPISODE: 10/10/21 Dr. Anthony Fauci on Merck’s COVID pill and Pfizer’s vaccine for kids 5 to 11

Published: Oct. 9, 2021 at 7:47 PM EDT
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to President Biden, and Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, October 10, 2021. The program will also feature a conversation with KTUU-TV (Anchorage) news anchor Mike Ross about the spike in COVID-19 cases in Alaska.

When asked whether people who have had COVID, particularly the Delta variant, need to adhere to vaccine mandates, Dr. Fauci answered: “‘I believe it’s something that’s eminently worthy of discussion” adding that even though a lot of questions still need to be answered before changing policies, “there’s no doubt that if you get infected, for the most part, you have a considerable degree of immunity against reinfection.”

On how we might see COVID infections progress over the winter months, Dr. Fauci told Van Susteren: “I strongly suspect that you’re going to start seeing the deaths go down similar to the hospitalizations; how quickly they go down and how thoroughly they go down is going to depend a lot on a number of circumstances, which will be influenced by things like the colder weather, people doing things indoors, how well they go by the CDC guidelines of when you have a lot of infection in the community, even though you’re vaccinated, when you are not home but outside congregate settings in the public, wearing masks, I think would be very prudent.”

The NAIAD director added that it would be “difficult to predict slopes and rebounds unless you have a situation where you can really get the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated.”

When asked whether doctors are being forced to ration care in crowded hospital settings, Dr. Marrazzo answered: “I don’t think we’ve ever been faced with rationing care in this acute of a situation so visibly before. The reality is we do ration care.”

On why so many children have recently been diagnosed with COVID, Dr. Marrazzo said that part of the reason is because the U.S. has been behind in vaccinating children, and the other is because the Delta variant is more infectious and causes more severe disease. “I don’t think we were quite so sure about that a few months ago, but I think there’s now no question that the incidents of severe disease in kids requiring ICU care, requiring intubation, is higher with Delta,” she said.

Dr. Fauci and Dr. Marrazzo interview highlights are below.

Dr. Anthony Fauci Highlights

On Pfizer seeking EUA for children to get the COVID vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

I think that’s very important. They’ve done the studies to examine the safety and the immunogenicity, which means the ability of this vaccine to induce an appropriate response. As is always the case, those data will go before the FDA who will examine it very carefully, looking for the safety and immunogenicity.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

And it’s the natural process. You do a clinical trial, you get information, you submit it to the FDA, and they will make a determination.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

If in fact they do decide that this is something appropriate to do with regard to safety and immunogenicity, I think it would be an important step forward because you do want to protect children virtually of any age, as well as obviously the adult population.

Greta Van Susteren

But hypothetically, if a healthy 25-year-old can get it, what would be the difference in a five-year-old, for instance?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

Well, you can never predict with absolute certainty what the response would be in someone of a different age with that difference in years, both from a safety and an immunogenicity standpoint, because there are different issues with people at different ages.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

I mean, people understandably think, “Well it’s the same thing, 30-year-old, 20-year-old, five-year-old;” it’s not, and that’s the reason why you do a clinical trial. And that’s the reason why you have both an FDA with their advisory committee, and the CDC with their advisory committee on immunization practices. It’s a process that ensures the safety and the efficacy of products that are allowed to be given to the American public.

On the need to adhere to vaccine mandates if you’ve had COVID

Greta Van Susteren

All right. Let me give you a hypothetical. A lot of corporations are mandating that their employees get a vaccine. What is your thought if someone recently had the Delta variant and maybe had some antibodies, would that be someone that you might think would be considered for a temporary exemption from it? What’s your thought on that?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

Well, that’s obviously a subject of considerable debate and considerable discussion. And I think the jury is still out on that. I mean, obviously, when someone does get infected, they have a considerable amount of immunity, but that varies from person to person. It varies with the age of the person. We’re not sure of the durability of it. We’re not sure of how well it does against various variants compared to vaccination, the typical vaccination.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

However, there’s no doubt, I think that’s where people have some disagreement, there’s no doubt that if you get infected for the most part, you have a considerable degree of immunity against reinfection, not complete at all, but a considerable amount. All of the other questions that I just mentioned need to be answered, I believe, before one has a policy issue regarding how that could substitute for vaccination. I believe it’s something that’s eminently worthy of discussion.

On what may happen with COVID this winter

Greta Van Susteren

This winter … Do you anticipate another surge of the Delta variant, and/or is there going to be a variant like the Mu variant that is going to be just as punishing to us?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

You know, a lot of that answer to your question is going to depend on how successful we are in getting the approximately 68 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated, and how successful we are in getting them vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

Fortunately right now, over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a turnaround in the slope in going down in both cases and hospitalizations. Deaths are still up, but it’s really flattening, so it’s a lagging indicator.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

I strongly suspect that you’re going to start seeing the deaths go down similar to the hospitalizations; how quickly they go down and how thoroughly they go down is going to depend a lot on a number of circumstances, which will be influenced by things like the colder weather, people doing things indoors, how well they go by the CDC guidelines of when you have a lot of infection in the community, even though you’re vaccinated, when you are not home, but outside congregate settings in the public, wearing masks, I think would be very prudent.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

So there’s a lot of factors that go into it. Difficult to predict slopes and rebounds unless you have a situation where you can really get the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated

On the Merck COVID pill

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

The drug in question is molnupiravir, and it’s a drug that is made by Merck in association with Ridgeback. They did a clinical trial of about 1,500 people, and when they got to around 775, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board stopped the study because the results were promising.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

It turned out that 7% of the people taking the drug wound up with hospitalization, and 15% of those who took the placebo wound up with hospitalization and death, leading to a 50% efficacy. Of note, in the people who received placebo, there were eight deaths; in people who received the drug, there were zero deaths. That’s all good news, but these are preliminary data.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

And as is always the case, you’ll have to very likely do a much larger study, but the company will likely submit the data to the FDA for consideration for an emergency use authorization. Then the decision is up to the regulatory authority, namely the FDA, but thus far the preliminary data look encouraging.

On antibody tests

Greta Van Susteren

We have tests to see whether you have the virus, the PCR, we have some home tests to test whether you have the virus. Is there a test that you are satisfied with that determines whether you have antibodies, how much you have antibodies, whether there are enough antibodies, and is there going to be a home test for that?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

Well you’ve asked about five questions there that might have different answers to each of the questions, Greta.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

Yes, there are tests that will give you an estimate of the antibody level that you have. That is not a test that is yet in the home kit because that’s a quantitative test. So you could say in an experimental way, “Either I’ve gotten vaccinated, or I’m infected, what is the level of antibody that I have against a certain part of the virus?” Those tests clearly can be done in a qualified lab.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

The home test that you’re referring to is generally an antigen test to determine if in fact you are infected, it isn’t as sensitive as the PCR test, but it’s getting better and better. And if you can get one that’s a 10-minute test that people can readily use, that would be a very good thing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden

And in fact, the government is investing about $2 billion to make hundreds of millions of those tests available that people can actually be able to do themselves at home; and many of them we’re planning to make free in thousands and thousands of pharmacies.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo Highlights

On COVID patients in Alabama

Greta Van Susteren

Doctor, can you give me sort of an overview of what the hospital’s like where you care for patients right now? The number of COVID patients, with increasing, decreasing seriousness of it?

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama

What we’re seeing is that the people who are hospitalized in the intensive care units with COVID are really sick. They tend to stay there a long time. Whether they die or not, their stays in the ICU are really prolonged.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama

Part of it is because a lot of them are younger, because younger people are unvaccinated. So it takes them longer to go really bad if they’re not going to make it, or if they’re going to make it, it just takes a long time to get over severe COVID. So I would say we are at a tenuous steady state. Now, some places in the U.S are nowhere near as healthy as that. You’re hearing about some very acute situations in Idaho, in Alaska. So I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet, unfortunately.

On the situation in Alaska and whether hospitals in the U.S. are rationing care

Greta Van Susteren

You mentioned Alaska. There have been some reports of Alaska, that Alaska has had to resort to some emergency protocols, which is basically code for having to figure out who gets care ... Is rationing care something that hospitals in this country are facing? And if so, how do you decide who gets what? And are those protocols well in place long before we get to this?

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama

I don’t think we’ve ever been faced with rationing care in this acute of a situation so visibly before. The reality is we do ration care. And a great example that I just heard about is, that I believe it’s the University of Colorado Healthcare System, is now denying consideration of transplants to people who refuse COVID vaccination. And what people often don’t realize is that for interventions like transplants, organ transplants, we tend to choose patients who are optimized to have the best outcomes. We will not transplant patients for a liver, say, if they’re continuing to drink. We will not transplant for lungs, for example, if they’re continuing to smoke.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama

So this is another example of trying to decide who’s going to be best served by getting the care they really need. The situation in Alaska is really tragic and it’s been played out across the world … with COVID, you’re seeing these very, very dramatic incidents or examples of what we have to decide when we’re deciding who gets here.

On why more people are dying of COVID in rural areas than in urban areas

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama

I think it’s a number of factors. And like everything in this pandemic, there just are no simple answers. People who want it to be black and white are going to be eternally frustrated. Rural areas face so many challenges with regard to care. First of all, comorbidities are higher in those areas because people don’t often have access to the fantastic kinds of preventive care that you and I have, whether it’s blood pressure maintenance, whether it’s care of their asthma, whether it’s preventive care of cardiac disease, or even renal disease, and diabetes, gigantic one, not to mention obesity. So you have a population in rural areas who generally is going to be set up for more adverse consequences of COVID in the first place. The second thing is that there are access issues to getting vaccines …. It’s a very, very challenging situation.

On why there are so many reports of young people getting COVID

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama

I just read that pediatric cases in August hit an all-time high for the entire pandemic. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. One is of course, we’re behind on vaccinating kids.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama

The second thing is the Delta variant. Two characteristics of the Delta variant I think have set us up to have this adverse pediatric situation. One is the infectiousness, which we talked about before. It’s a hundred times more infectious. So if you’re going to get exposed to it, you’re probably going to get it. If you’re an unvaccinated little kid and you are going back to school, starting to be with people in late August, et cetera, you probably were going to get infected.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama

The second thing is that Delta causes more severe disease. I don’t think we were quite so sure about that a few months ago, but I think there’s now no question that the incidents of severe disease in kids requiring ICU care, requiring intubation, is higher with Delta, for reasons we don’t yet really understand. So I think that’s what’s going on with kids and hopefully we can reverse the trend, because I’m very worried of obviously, as the weather gets colder and people start going back into schools and indoor situations with the holidays coming up.

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About Greta Van Susteren:

Greta Van Susteren is the Chief Political Analyst for Gray Media and host of Full Court Press. Ms. Van Susteren is a veteran of Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN. Her prime-time Fox News Channel Show, “On the Record,” was number 1 in its time slot for 14 1⁄2 years. Before joining Fox News, she hosted CNN’s prime-time news and analysis program, “The Point with Greta Van Susteren,” and co-hosted the network’s daily legal analysis show, “Burden of Proof.” Her legal analysis for CNN’s coverage of Election 2000 earned her the American Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism. She continues to host the weekly 30-minute program “Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren” on Voice of America, which broadcasts exclusively outside of the United States.

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