The US is “unlikely” to reach herd immunity for the coronavirus if too many people refuse to get vaccinated, the country’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Sunday.
Various polls have been conducted in the US that suggest that a significant percentage of the population would refuse to get vaccinated if one were to become available. In May, one poll conducted by YouGov found that 19 percent would refuse the vaccine, while 26 percent were unsure if they would get it.
“That is one of the reasons why we have to make sure we engage the community … there is a general anti-science anti-authority anti-vaccine feeling among some people in this country, an alarmingly large percentage of people relatively speaking,” Fauci said in an interview with US news channel CNN on Sunday.
Fauci’s answer followed a question regarding how effective a potential vaccine might be. No vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing infection; the CDC, for instance, estimates that the flu vaccine is between 40-60 percent effective.
“The best we’ve ever done is measles which is 97-98 percent effective. That would be wonderful if we get there, I don’t [think] we will. I would settle for 70-75 percent effective vaccine because that would bring you to that level that would be herd immunity level,” Fauci told CNN.
He warned, however, that at the 70-75 percent level, it would only be effective if a significant portion of the population get the vaccine, which current polling indicates may be unlikely.
Various conspiracy theories have been circulating online regarding the coronavirus vaccine. One such theory involves Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and posits that he would use the pandemic as an opportunity to create a vaccine that contains a microchip capable of tracking the entire population.
The theory has been wildly debunked, but has gained traction.
“Vaccines are often subject to these rumors, and these rumors are just so hard to get rid of, even the thing from the past where they said it was associated with autism, while trial after trial showed that’s absolutely not the case,” Gates said on Thursday.
Earlier in June, a Yahoo News/YouGov poll found 44 percent of Republicans believed the conspiracy theory.
Only 26 percent of Republicans accurately identified the story as false, while 19 percent of Democrats also believed the theory.