On Sunday Feb. 21 Dr. Anthony Fauci was interviewed by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press. The following is a transcript of his remarks. Fauci was equivocal on whether it is safe for adults to be in school without being vaccinated, underscoring the complexities of reopening schools during this pandemic.
Chuck Todd: Based on the CDC guidelines, what level of risk is an unvaccinated teacher taking right now by going into a reopened school?
Dr. Fauci: You cannot give a numerical figure to that. You can’ say, “What is the risk? Give me a number.” I mean, obviously, being in school is very similar to being in the community. So the risk of a teacher getting infected in the school is very likely very much similar to what you would see in the community. But we don’t know that yet. We haven’t done those kind of prospective studies where you can quantitate and make a decision based on this number is here and that number is there, because the data get fuzzy when you try to compare what happens when you’re not in the school versus when you are in the school.
Chuck Todd: Well, you understand why this has caused consternation, right? The scientists say, “Hey, look, it is relatively safe.” A teacher sits there and says, “Yeah, but I’m still taking a risk.” Would you feel comfortable going into a classroom and teaching?
Dr. Fauci: Would I feel comfortable? It’s tough because I’ve not been in that situation. I have a daughter whom I adore who is actually doing just that right now as we speak, in a city far from Washington D.C. So I understand the concern that people have. And that’s the reason why we say … there are so many complicated issues. How the teachers feel, how the parents feel about the possibility of bringing infection back home. There are so many things there that you need to consider. The thing that we say, and I’ve been saying this for months and months, even ante-dating the CDC guidelines, is that the default position is that we should try to do everything we can to get the children back to school safely for the children, and for the teachers and other educational personnel. CDC guidelines try to delineate the steps where you can do just that, on how do we get them back to school in a safe way and giving several guidelines about how you can do that. It’s not an easy issue. Anybody that says it’s an easy decision to make, they’re not looking at the complexity of it.
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