The White House missed its goal of vaccinating 70% of US adults by July 4 amid vaccine hesitancy.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said he supported mandates at local institutions like schools and businesses.
He also said formal full approval of COVID-19 vaccines in the US might help combat hesitancy.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said he believed there should be more COVID-19 vaccine mandates at the local level but the federal government would not mandate the shots.
Fauci, the longtime director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” when Jake Tapper asked whether he supported vaccine mandates at places like schools and businesses.
“I do believe at the local level there should be more mandates,” Fauci said. “We’re talking about life-and-death situation. We’ve lost 600,000 Americans already, and we’re still losing more people. There’ve been 4 million deaths worldwide, so I am in favor of that.”
Read more: How anti-vaxxers are engineering a wave of legal battles to fight mandatory workplace COVID jabs
Fauci said he believed one reason some had been reluctant to mandate coronavirus vaccines was that they had not been fully authorized in the US. The vaccines there so far have received only emergency-use authorization, which can be used by the Food and Drug Administration during public-health emergencies. But Fauci said the data behind the vaccines was robust.
“The amount of data right now that shows a high degree of effectiveness and a high degree of safety is more than we’ve ever seen with emergency-use authorization,” he said. “These vaccines are as good as officially approved, with all the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed.”
Fauci said that the vaccines hadn’t received full approval because of processes that needed to take place at the FDA but that “it’s as good as done.” He predicted that more local mandates might come once the vaccines were formally approved.
About 59% of American adults are fully vaccinated, with 67% having gotten at least one dose. Vaccines are widely available in the country, but public-health officials are working to combat vaccine hesitancy, particularly among Republicans. The US fell short of the White House’s goal to have given one dose to at least 70% of adults by July 4.
At a Conservative Political Action Conference event in Dallas on Saturday, a crowd cheered about the US’s failure to meet the White House’s vaccination goal. Speaking on CNN, Fauci called the reaction “horrifying.”
“They are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives,” he said.
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