Doctor Anthony Fauci has spoken about the confusion surrounding America’s great unmasking but says he does not know why the federal government has so far shied away from introducing a nationwide vaccine passport scheme.
Appearing on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time, the Biden administration’s chief medical adviser was posed questions about the confusion surrounding the CDC lifting the federal mask mandate for vaccinated Americans.
Some states have followed the guidelines, while other states and some businesses have kept mask mandates in place, even for those who are vaccinated.
As confusion remains around how establishments can determine if someone is vaccinated or not, the suggestion of vaccination passports has been raised.
Some countries – such as Israel and its ‘Green Passes’ – have introduced vaccine passports in the form of physical papers or phone apps, that allow vaccinated people to prove they are protected against the coronavirus.
This gives vaccinated people entry to establishments such as bars and restaurants, and in some countries will likely open up international travel. In the EU, for example, vaccinated Americans will now be allowed to travel into the bloc without quarantine.
Some have suggested the use of vaccine passports to clear up the confusion around wearing masks – saying those with a vaccine passport should be allowed to go mask-free, while those without should wear a face covering.
In answer to why the Federal government is not mandating the use of vaccination passports for inoculation proof, the prominent physician said on Wednesday: ‘I don’t have the answer,’ and spoke of the complexity of the issue.
Appearing on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time, the Biden administration’s chief medical adviser Dr Fauci (left) was posed questions about the confusion surrounding the CDC lifting the federal mask mandate for vaccinated Americans last week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says the source of confusion around masks stems from the CDC¿s wish to acknowledge the fully vaccinated can safely forego masks indoors and out.
¿That triggered an interpretation that we can now just throw away masks¿which is obviously not the case.¿ pic.twitter.com/dplitj3AoH
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) May 20, 2021
Interviewing Dr Fauci, Chris Cuomo said for him, the answer is simple.
‘If you’re vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask,’ Cuomo said. ‘If you’re not vaccinated, nothing has changed, but you will cheat.’
Cuomo said the answer to the problem of unvaccinated people claiming to be vaccinated lies in vaccine passports, a document will allow those who have received two Covid-19 jabs to prove they are inoculated.
‘You have to have a vaccine passport. Otherwise, this will never work. There is no way to differentiate the vaccine from the unvaccinated. Why do they avoid the passport?’ Cuomo asked.
‘It’s a complex reason,’ Fauci said. ‘And one of them is that if you, in fact, to require a passport, you’re going to be discriminating against people and putting people at a disadvantage of essentially forcing them in many respects to get vaccinated.’
Cuomo responded by saying that it’s one thing if people have not been offered the vaccine, but added that with the vaccine available to everybody, people ‘get to make a choice. And why should you get opportunities as vaccinated that you don’t get as unvaccinated?’
‘What the administration is saying is that they’re not going to mandate a passport for vaccines centrally,’ Fauci said, noting that organizations – such as some colleges – are already requiring proof of vaccination.
But Cuomo asked again, questioning why the Federal Government should leave it to organizations to decide when they have the resources to roll out a vaccine passport program.
‘Chris – I don’t have the answer for you, Chris. I don’t have the answer for you,’ Fauci replied, to Cumo’s shock.
In answer to why the Federal government is not mandating the use of vaccination passports for inoculation proof, the prominent physician said on Wednesday: ‘I don’t have the answer,’ and spoke of the complexity of the issue
‘He doesn’t have the answer. Fauci doesn’t have the answer? They call the vaccine the ‘Fauci Ouchie’, now you don’t have the answer?’ Cuomo joked. ‘I know that this is politics, but just look what’s happening. New York State’s got the Excelsior pass, other people have it.
‘I just I really believe that they got mixed up with science and politics here. If you want to preference people who are vaccinated, you’ve got to give us a way to distinguish between those who are and those who aren’t,’ Cuomo added.
Fauci replied: You could make a good argument for that, Chris, I’m not arguing with you. But the policy is – they don’t want to do it centrally.
‘They don’t want to have a central dictate that you have to have a passport because they don’t want to put people in compromised position, I hear you argument, you’re saying well, then get vaccinated, period.’
Fauci raised the issue of vaccination passports earlier in the interview, when saying one of the problems facing establishments the latest mask mandate is that there is currently no way for people to prove they have been vaccinated.
In his experience, Fauci said business owners are saying that since there is currently no way of knowing who is vaccinated or unvaccinated, many are saying they will still required people to wear masks on their premises.
Pictured: Pedestrians wear protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, May 19, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York
A healthcare worker fills out a Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card during a Care For The Homeless vaccination event at the Health Center of Susan’s Place Shelter For Women in the Bronx borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, March 25, 2021
‘So where the confusion is, is that people are saying: ‘Wait a minute, some people are saying you don’t have to wear masks when you’re vaccinated. And now you’re telling me when I go into an establishment, I have to wear a mask?’
‘And you’re right, it is confusing and fairness to the people who are trying to make heads or tails of that it can be confusing,’ Fauci said.
The White House has so far ruled out the introduction of vaccine passports, with press secretary Jen Psak saying on Monday: ‘[The CDC guidance] has not changed our view that the federal government will not be playing that role,’ Psaki said.
‘The private sector may, and it may prompt the private sector moving forward on actions, which is where we think it is appropriately situated.’
In April, she said: ‘The government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.’
In a separate interview with Axios on Wednesday, Fauci acknowledged the confusion around the updated CDC guidance for wearing masks.
He told the news website that he thought people were ‘misinterpreting’ the new guidance, ‘thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone.
‘It’s not,’ Fauci said. ‘It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.’
The physician added that he felt it was not people’s fault for the misinterpretation.
‘People either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it. They are feeling that we’re saying: ‘You don’t need the mask anymore.’ That’s not what the CDC said.
‘They said: If you are vaccinated, you can feel safe — that you will not get infected either outdoors or indoors. It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks,’ Fauci said.
Cuomo said he agreed that it wasn’t American’s fault for the misinterpretation, and instead placed the blame for the confusion on the CDC.
Fauci stopped short of blaming the CDC himself, but added: ‘I believe that the the source of the confusion is the fact that the CDC made the change in guidelines purely to allow people who’ve been fully vaccinated to realise that the scientific data itself indicates that it is safe for them to go without a mask, not only outdoors, but also indoors.
‘That was meant for those who are fully vaccinated. What happened is that that triggered in interpretation that we can now just throw masks away and nobody has to wear masks, which is obviously not the case. Because for those who have not been vaccinated, their original guidelines stay exactly the same.’
On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted its mask mandate, with new guidance saying people who have been fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors, with some exceptions.
People must still wear masks in healthcare settings, homeless shelters, prison and jails, and while on public transport.
However, the CDC’s recommendation is just that – an unenforceable recommendation. States, cities and businesses can still require masks, leading to a patchwork of different rules across the country.
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has said that the state will keep its mask order in place for another month, while Andrew Cuomo – New York’s governor, said it would lift mask requirements on Wednesday, but keep it in some settings.
Some big businesses, including Starbucks and Home Depot, have already said they’ll keep mask policies in place for now. Others – like CVS, Walgreens and Macy’s – are now reviewing their requirements in light of the new guidance.
More than a third of the U.S. population – and 45 percent of adults – are now fully vaccinated, and nearly 60 percent of adults have had at least a first shot.
As vaccination has become widespread, scientists in the U.S. – and especially in Israel – have had a chance to see real-world proof that the shots prevent almost all transmission.
Last week, President Joe Biden told Americans who have their full COVID vaccine to remove their face masks and his wife Jill, visiting West Virginia, did just that.
‘If you’re fully vaccinated, take your mask off. You’ve earned the right to do something that Americans are known for all around the world, greeting others with a smile,’ President Biden said during remarks in the White House Rose Garden.