tv White House Briefing With Dr. Fauci on COVID-19 Response CSPAN November 22, 2022 8:02pm-8:50pm EST
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president and niaid doctor -- director dr. fauci. as you all know, dr. fauci is retiring next month. and i'm honored -- so honored to have him join me today one last time, one more time at the podium. and he's going to discuss the importance of getting your updated covid vaccine shot ahead of the holidays. for so many americans throughout our fight with covid, dr. fauci has been a source of information and facts. but dr. fauci's leadership and legacy stretch far beyond the past couple of years, as you all have known him. it -- it actually goes back even further, as i was just stating. whether it be hiv/aids, ebola, or covid-19, for close to four decades and under seven republican and democratic presidents, dr. fauci has always led with the science. and our country is stronger and healthier because of his leadership.
today, he's returned again to tell you a bit more about the science related to this updated covid shot that you've heard us all talk about and an important, clear message you've heard from him before, which is: please get vaccinated. get your vaccine. so, without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce and welcome dr. fauci for his last -- his last run at the podium. all yours, dr. fauci. dr. fauci: thank you very much, karine, for that really very -- very kind introduction. it's really a great pleasure to be back here with you again, albeit, i believe, for the last time. but as karine said, i'm going to spend the next just couple of minutes talking to you about the importance of getting an updated booster vaccine as we enter into the holiday season and the colder weeks and months of the late fall and early winter. so let's just talk very briefly about what we know about the
vaccines, because we want to make our decisions really based on facts, evidence, and data. are the vaccines safe? that keeps coming up. the answer is now: overwhelmingly, it should be off the table. there have been 13 billion doses of a covid-19 vaccine that have been distributed worldwide, hundreds of millions in the united states. and there's robust safety monitoring systems that are in place. and clearly, an extensive body of information clearly indicates that they're safe. next: are they effective? and i believe you are all aware of this. if you look at the striking data, overwhelmingly show the effectiveness of vaccines, particularly in preventing severe illness and deaths. and recent data that has come out indicate that if, in fact, you are vaccinated and boosted, compared to an unvaccinated
person, there's a 14 times lower risk of dying in the most recent ba.4/5 era compared to unvaccinated and at least a 3 times lower risk of testing positive compared to the unvaccinated individuals. but then there's some issues that we have to deal with that are sometimes confusing to the american public. “if that's such great data, why do you tell us that we should be, for our own safety and that of our families and the community, get a booster shot?” there are two issues that in some respects are unprecedented when it comes to infectious diseases. and that is: as good as the vaccine is and as good as post-infection protection is, the immunity and protection wanes over time. let me put it into some perspective for you. if you get vaccinated with measles or infected with measles, the duration of
protection is measured at a minimum in decades and likely for a lifetime. that just happens to, unfortunately, not be the case when you're dealing with coronavirus and particularly sars-cov-2. so you need to update the protection that we know is good protection. next, we have the complicating issue that we can't do anything about, is that you have the emergence every several months now, historically, of variants. remember delta, omicron, ba.4/5, bq.1.1 -- the things that we're all hearing about and reading about and seeing? you don't have that with -- another example, just getting back to measles, which we're all familiar with. there are no variants of measles. i was -- got infected with measles when i was a youngster because i'm old enough to not be getting the vaccine. and that measles is the same
measles that's circulating now in the developing world. it doesn't change. and that's the two major reasons for getting a booster. the booster is bivalent. people get confused with that word. “what does 'bivalent' mean?” there's two components. one is the ancestral, the original vaccine that we all got. and the other is the updated ba.4/5. so then people ask appropriate questions. “do they really work? what are the parameters to see if they work?” there are two parameters. one is what the virus -- what the vaccine does in boosting an immune response. we refer to that in the medical circles as immune correlates. and then there's the real-world vaccine efficacy. if you look at the recent data that has now been coming out from the companies as well as academic investigators, it is clear now, despite an initial bit of confusion, that the ba.4/5 bivalent booster -- what we refer to as the “updated
vaccine” -- clearly induces a better response against ba.4/5 and the sublineages of ba.4/5 than does the ancestral strain. so from a purely immunological standpoint, it looks quite good. clinical efficacy data from the cdc will be released -- in fact, it already has been released; it was supposed to be released at 11:30 -- which is clinical efficacy data, looking at real-world data of hundreds of thousands of people, looking at the capability of the virus to protect against the real-world ba.4/5 that has been circulating. and we know that that is really quite good. so, we have immunological data and you have now clinical efficacy data. everybody was asking the question: where's the clinical efficacy data? now it has come out with the cdc mmwr this morning. so, we know it's safe. we know that it is effective.
so, my message and my final message -- may be the final message i give you from this podium -- is that: please, for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated covid-19 shot as soon as you're eligible to protect yourself, your family, and your community. i urge you to visit vaccines.gov to find a location where you can easily get an updated vaccine. and please do it as soon as possible. thank you. dr. jha: well, hard to follow dr. fauci, who, i would argue, has been the most important, consequential public servant in the united states in the last half century and a leader and a role model for so many of us. so, tony, thank you. so, thank you for reviewing the safety and effectiveness data. i will tell you it is remarkable what data have come in in the last month. i was here in front of all you a couple months ago, talking about what we expected.
all of the evidence that has come in in the last month has far exceeded our expectations on the efficacy of these vaccines, and the safety data continues to be terrific. today, i want to focus on a new six-week sprint that the administration is announcing to get more americans their updated shots before the cold and winter season really settles in. now, i want to start off by saying we are heartened to say we are not alone in this effort. just yesterday, 12 of america's leading medical and clinical societies -- i'm talking about the ama; i'm talking about the american college of physicians, the american association of family physicians; i'm not going to list them, all 12 -- but they all joined together with one simple, strong recommendation for all americans, which is: go get your updated covid vaccine shot and go get your annual flu shot right away. now why did they do that? why did america's physicians, speaking as a unified voice, say that? because they know the best way to save lives this holiday
season is to ensure that all americans, particularly seniors, get their updated covid vaccine and their flu vaccine. now, we've already had 35 million americans who have gotten their updated covid shot, including over 16 million seniors. and we are encouraged by steady and strong week-by-week numbers. we've seen about 4 to 5 million americans getting it every week. but we are working hard to reach even more americans, especially older, more vulnerable americans. so, as i said, today we're launching a 6-week sprint to help americans get their updated shot by the end of the year. as part of this effort, with our limited resources that we have, we're making a series of announcements and a series of efforts to expand community-based covid-19 vaccination efforts. so, let me lay out some of them. we're announcing $350 million in funding to help community health centers meet people where they are with facts, with vaccines, through proven methods like partnerships with faith-based groups and mobile vaccine clinics.
we're announcing an additional $125 million to help local aging and disability networks to get older adults and more vulnerable and disabled americans vaccinated. this will include efforts at senior centers across our great country. the centers for medicare and medicaid services, cms, is going to issuing guidance today reminding nursing homes that they are required to educate their residents on the benefits of covid-19 vaccines and they are required to offer vaccines to residents. and nursing homes that don't do these basic things will be referred for greater oversight and possibly face enforcement actions. we're also doubling down on our trusted messengers work because we know that makes a difference. we're working with national and local organizations, state and public health departments, pharmacies. you're going to hear schools, colleges, and universities announce that they're hosting clinics. all of this, we think, is going to make a difference. also, what will make a
difference is more paid media efforts by the department of health and human services designed to reach tens of millions of americans, for instance, that are watching the world cup through television and through digital ads. bottom line is that we're doing everything we can in the next six weeks to help families get their updated covid shots by end of the year because it's the best protection for this winter. and remember, for a majority of americans, this is going to be a once-a-year shot. one covid shot, once a year, just like the flu shot. while i'm very encouraged by the work so many are doing, we need everybody to step up. we need to make protecting our loved ones an important part of the conversation we have around the thanksgiving table, an important part of the conversation we have in the days and weeks ahead. because here's what we know: if folks get their updated vaccines and they get treated if they have a breakthrough infection, we can prevent essentially every covid death in america. that is a remarkable fact two
and half years after we found this virus first in our country. but it's going to take all of us to make that happen. so, please, don't wait. get your covid shot. get your flu shot. that's why god gave you two arms. you can get one in each arm if you want. go to vaccines.gov. and let's do everything we all can to protect the american people. thank you. ms. jean-pierre: okay. we'll can take a couple questions. go ahead, steve. >> dr. jha, why is a six week -- why is this necessary? are the numbers lagging? dr. jha: no, look, we've had very consistent, as i said, about 4 to 5 million shots going in. there are a couple of things that, you know, we are obviously now entering a higher risk part of the year. why? because each of the last few years, we've seen a substantial increase in cases as we got into december and january. so, this is a really important moment to announce this effort. we think that if people do this now and do this over the next couple of weeks, it's going to protect them over the holidays. so we think this is exactly the right time to make this, and the administration is obviously deeply committed to making sure
we're doing everything we can to protect the american people. >> for dr. fauci, two questions, if i can. hospitalizations for the flu at this point in the season are the highest in over a decade. why is the flu so bad this year? and how much protection is the flu vaccine providing for those who have gotten it? dr. fauci: yeah, well, let me answer the second question first -- is that the vaccine is well matched to the circulating strains. so that, again, is another really good reason to tell people what dr. jha and i and others have been saying about “get your flu vaccine,” because that's one of the issues that we're going to be dealing with this winter that we can do something about. when you have seasons of very low flu, which got kind of bumped off the table by covid, when you have respiratory illnesses that circulate, they sort of have niches that you very rarely have one and the other at its peak. so, when we were at a peak with covid, all the other respiratory illnesses, including rsv and
including flu, were very, very low compared to other years. when you now open up in society -- people now maybe are under-vaccinated, not everybody is wearing a mask, we're trying to get back and are getting back to some degree of normality -- you almost have like a rebound effect of something that was very low for two seasons. if you look at the flu over the last couple of years, in the peak of the covid back in 2020 and 2021, we were having the lowest flu seasons on record. so, it's not surprising that we're seeing it return back. >> and if you don't -- one more, if you don't mind. dr. fauci: sure. >> this is your last appearance at the podium. you became a household name in large part because of your appearances here at the early stages of covid. what do you want americans to remember about your service in government? dr. fauci: well, i think what i've accomplished in my 54 years at the nih and my 38 years as
the director of niaid -- although covid is really, really very important, it is a fragment of the total 40 years that i've been doing it. so i'll let other people judge the value or not of my accomplishments. but what i would like people to remember about what i've done is that every day for all of those years, i've given it everything that i have and i've never left anything on the field. so, if they want to remember me, whether they judge rightly or wrongly what i've done, i gave it all i got for many decades. >> what should americans expect as that variant continues to rise? and just to take a step back, i know you were encouraging folks here to get their latest booster, but should americans expect what we've been seeing in terms of more hos- -- or more cases, not as many
hospitalizations? just a step back, what should americans expect when it comes to covid in the weeks ahead? dr. fauci: well, what americans should expect is, from our experience, that you never can definitively say what to expect but you should really take some comfort in knowing that we have within our wherewithal to mitigate anything that comes our way because we have flu vaccines, we have covid vaccines, we have testing. we have the option, under certain circumstances, with good judgment, to wear masks where appropriate in indoor congregate settings. so, we can do a lot to mitigate any surge. one thing we were encouraged with looking at other countries, such as singapore, which had a big xbb, they had increase in cases, but they did not have a concomitant major increase in hospitalizations. so, we're hoping that a combination of people who've
been infected and boosted and vaccinated, or people who've been vaccinated and boosted and not infected, that there's enough community protection that we're not going to see a repeat of what we saw last year at this time. ms. jean-pierre: go ahead. >> is the booster effective against the xbb? dr. fauci: yeah. well, xbb is one that evades immune response as measured by antibody, which is one of the elements -- not the only element -- of protection. much more of cellular t-cell responses protect you against severe disease. the protection is diminished multifold with xbb. if you look at the best, and then it goes down a bit with one. it goes down with b, bq1.1. it goes down even more with xbb. it doesn't fall off the map, but it goes down. so, you could expect some protection, but not the optimal protection. ms. jean-pierre: go ahead, april. and then alex, in the back. >> dr. fauci and dr. jha. dr. fauci, first -- and dr. jha. first, on the issue of covid and mask-wearing.
we're not talking about mask-wearing in this moment. masks and the word “masks” have become a pejorative in some parts of this nation. can you talk about the importance of mask-wearing as you're worried about the holidays and people gathering together? and then, on the gatherings for thanksgiving and christmas, what do you recommend for families who may have some who are boosted and may have some who are not boosted and may have some who have not had a vaccine at all? dr. fauci: well, i think your first and second question are related -- >> they are. dr. fauci: -- because what it really tells you is that we have multiple interventions and multiple actions we can take to protect ourselves. so, there's a whole spectrum. masking is one of them. now, we're not talking about requirements or mandating. we're talking about if you're in a situation and each individual person evaluates their own risk and that of the risk of their family members, for example, like a person who is a
25-year-old living alone versus someone who has a elderly parent or grandparent or someone who is immune compromised. first of all, everybody should be vaccinated and boosted with flu and with covid. whether or not you wear a mask -- or another thing we shouldn't underestimate is testing. so, when we're gathering at a family gathering for thanksgiving or for christmas or for any other holiday as we get into the winter, it makes sense that you might want to get a test that day before you come into a place in which you might be infected and spread it or other people who might be there in order to protect. so, there is -- masking is important. but you can count masking, vaccine, boosting, testing -- all of that is part of the spectrum of protecting yourself and your family. >> so what do you say about the word “mask” now being a pejorative in some communities? dr. fauci: no, it shouldn't be. i mean, you're absolutely right. i mean, i know sometimes when you walk in and you have a mask and nobody has a mask, you kind of feel guilty.
you shouldn't feel guilty. you look terrific, right? (laughter.) >> i do. i have no problem in here wearing a mask. thank you. ms. jean-pierre: all right. we've got to move on. >> dr. fauci, what did you personally do to investigate the origins of covid? ms. jean-pierre: go ahead alex. go ahead, alex. >> what have you personally done to investigate the origins of and then, omicron came along and sort of disrupted a large chunk of january, february's schools, flights. are we seeing a similar dynamic, especially with some of these new subvariants coming along? and then my second question, dr. fauci, for you specifically, what was the most difficult moment of the pandemic response for you throughout the last two, two and a half years? dr. jha: i'll start. yeah, i'll start with the first.
then, obviously, dr. fauci can answer the second. so, the short answer is no. like, first of all, like, you can't predict with any certainty. so we don't know what mother nature is going to throw at us. that said, these subvariants, -- obviously, we're tracking them very closely. the good news is, even if you see a diminishing of our vaccines, they're still effective against these subvariants -- way more effective than the original vaccine, right? so, i feel very confident that -- that if people continue to get vaccinated at good numbers, if people get boosted, we can have -- absolutely have a very safe and healthy holiday season. but there's always a caveat here of, like, you know, things out of left field, you can't predict and you can't -- but nothing i have seen in the subvariants makes me believe that we can't manage our way through it effectively, especially if people step up and get their vaccine. ms. jean-pierre: dr. fauci. dr. fauci: so, this is a really difficult question to answer -- about the most difficult because, you know, we've all lived through almost three years of the most horrendous outbreak
that we've experienced as a society in well over 100 years. but there are certain things that stand out. i mean, i could probably write an essay on all the things that were a difficult time. but one of the things, as a physician whose goal in life is to care for patients and to prevent and treat illness and ameliorate suffering, is that i remember back in my days in medical school and when i was an intern and a resident, when a patient came in, whether or not the patient didn't like you, was angry with you, whether it was a rich person or a poor person, you treated everybody the same because you cared about them and you wanted everyone to walk out healthy. so, when i see people in this country, because of the divisiveness in our country, not getting vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to do with her public health but have to do because of divisiveness and ideological differences, as a physician, it pains me because i
don't want to see anybody get infected, i don't want to see anybody hospitalized, and i don't want to see anybody die from covid. whether you're a far-right republican or a far-left democrat, it doesn't make any difference to me. i look upon it the same way as i did in the emergency room in the middle of new york city when i was taking care of everybody that was coming in off the street. so, that's the thing that troubles me most about this. ms. jean-pierre: go ahead, jeremy. >> thanks. dr. fauci -- >> what have you done personally to investigate the originals of covid? >> -- only -- only 13 percent -- ms. jean-pierre: hold on one second. we have a process here. i'm not calling out on people who yell. and you're being -- >> you call on the same people every single time. ms. jean-pierre: you're being -- you're being disrespectful to your colleagues, and you're being disrespectful to our guests. i will not call on you if you yell. and also, you're taking time off the clock because dr. fauci has to leave in a couple of minutes. >> i think that's (inaudible). >> you're being disrespectful. ms. jean-pierre: i'm done. i'm not going -- i'm not getting
into a back-and-forth with you. go ahead, jeremy. >> could we get an answer to the question? >> thanks. dr. fauci -- >> but she's asking -- she's asking a great question. >> it is a valid question. >> stop being disrespectful. >> no, she's asking a valid question. if you're ask your question -- you should allow her to ask her question. ms. jean-pierre: go ahead, jeremy. >> dr. fauci -- >> she's asking a valid question, dr. fauci, on the origin of covid-19. and people -- ms. jean-pierre: it is not -- it is not your turn. >> no, because -- >> stop being disrespectful! >> you call on the same people. that's the thing. >> many people have this question. >> you complete the press briefing, you need to call from people across the room. she has a valid question. she's asking about the origin of covid-19. ms. jean-pierre: i hear the question. >> and dr. fauci is the best person to answer that question. ms. jean-pierre: i hear your question, but we're not doing this the way you want it. this is a disrespectful -- >> it's not about me. ms. jean-pierre: it is. >> it's about calling from people across the room -- ms. jean-pierre: i'm done. simon, i'm done. >> -- not just the same people. ms. jean-pierre: simon, i'm done. i'm done with you right now. go ahead.
go ahead. >> (inaudible) asked a valid question. (inaudible). >> so, only -- ms. jean-pierre: go ahead. you're taking time away from your colleagues. go ahead. >> only 13 percent of adults have gotten this updated bivalent booster. seventy-eight percent of adults have completed their primary series. which of those numbers is more important in your mind, in terms of anticipating how bad this winter surge could be, if there is one, and the number of hospitalizations and deaths? and then a second question for you as well. dr. fauci: so, jeremy, they're both important, so i don't want to say one is more and then diminish the other. but the people who are most at risk are the unvaccinated. i mean, we have -- 68 percent of our population is vaccinated. you know, that means that we have 32 percent of the population that's not. and if you look at the data, they are just profoundly striking of the curves of death and hospitalization of unvaccinated versus vaccinated versus vaccinated and boosted. so, there is a relatively smaller difference in vaccinated and unboosted versus vaccinated plus boosted. that doesn't mean you shouldn't get boosted. but the real danger is in the people who have not been vaccinated. so, that's where we expect -- if we're going to see a problem this winter, it's going to be among those people. >> and then, as you reflect on, you know, the end of your time and decades in government service and particularly your handling of the pandemic, did
you imagine that this virus would still, as we are here today, be killing two to three hundred people a day? dr. fauci: no. >> did you imagine, you know, the level of cases? and what is your outlook for the future of this virus as you look in the next several years? dr. fauci: no, i did not imagine that. i don't think any of my colleagues imagined that we would see a three-year saga of suffering and death and a million americans losing their lives. the thing that was most disturbing is something i referred to, to an answer to one of the other questions -- was the continuation of multiple variants evolving over time, completely unlike something like measles. and that's the reason why i gave the measles comparison. where i think we're going is that, sooner or later -- and i hope it's sooner -- we're going to equilibrate to a low level when there's enough background cross-protection that unless we get a completely far, way out,
different variant, we likely are going to see a continued lowering and lowering. maybe we're going to see blips at winter and stuff, but hopefully it gets down. the message that dr. jha and i are trying to get to you today is that we can make that happen much sooner by vaccinating and by keeping updating on your booster. it's just really as simple as that. we're going to get there. we can get there with less suffering if we use the interventions that we have. if you want to let nature take its course, we're ultimately going to get there, but we're going to lose a lot more people than we need to. dr. jha: let me just add one more quick thing to that. i mean, look, there are hundreds of thousands of americans who have died this year because people were under-vaccinated, people did not get their -- people weren't boosted. and it is not blaming the people who died. it is blaming the fact we still have a lot of people out there spreading misinformation, undermining people's confidence
in vaccines. there was a paper out last week that showed that death numbers in many european countries were much lower because their booster rates are much higher. so, the key point here is: at this point, we can prevent nearly every death in america from covid, but we can't see this as, like, a horse race of “let's get anti-vaxxer and let's get a” like, we know what the evidence is. the science on this is crystal clear. people get their booster. if you get -- if you get infected, the chances you're going to end up super sick in the hospital is exceedingly low. that's the message: people need to get their updated vaccine. ms. jean-pierre: in the back, for dr. fauci. last question. go ahead. >> me? sorry. thank you so much. dr. fauci, if i could just ask you to reflect on the early days of this pandemic and the mixed messages that were coming out of, you know, this white house and how that affected people's trust and how you're going to take that message forward in future pandemics and the importance of trust and, you
know, how you would advise dr. jha and his colleagues to emphasize that in future pandemics. dr. fauci: sure. well, there was really a difference early on in the first weeks to months of the outbreak, because we were le- -- we were dealing with truly a moving target. and when you're dealing with things like reporting and discussing with the press, making recommendations, making guidelines, you have to make it on the basis of the information that you have at that time. but what's happening is that we were not dealing with a static situation; we were dealing with a dynamic situation. first, we thought it was just animal to human -- didn't spread well from human to human. then, we found that it spread very well. and then, we found out that it spread enormously well. then, we found out that it was aerosolized. then, we found out that 50 to 60 percent of the people who transmit it don't have any symptoms at all. so, the recommendations that were based on what you knew in
january -- when you get to march, april, and may, they will change. understandably, that leads to a question on the part of the public, is: “why do they keep changing things?” you know, a simple comparison and analogy: in january, two plus two equals four. in april, may, august, september, two plus two still equals four. when you're dealing with an evolving outbreak where the information you get changes from week to week and month to month, we've got to probably do a better job of, when we talk to the public, explaining that this is a dynamic situation that could change. i've said that from this podium multiple times when we were talking about, for example, do we need to do anything different now, when we had 15 cases. i said, “but,” “however,” semicolon, “this could change.” the only thing people heard when they throw it back at you: “well, you said we don't have to worry about anything.” so, you
just got to make sure you always underscore the dynamic nature of what you're dealing with. >> but, dr. fauci, just -- i'm sorry to contradict you, but there -- there was some dubious advice coming out of the white house. dr. fauci: excuse me? >> there was some dubious advice, some questionable medical advice coming out of non-doctors -- dr. fauci: right. >> -- at this podium. how do you think that affected the progress of this pandemic and (inaudible)? dr. fauci: well, you remember, if you were around, that at this podium i contradicted those, which set off a whole series of things in my life. (laughter.) but, you know -- yeah, i mean, we have to continue -- and we were just talking about this a little while ago -- the way you counter misinformation and disinformation is that -- to do whatever you can as often as you can to provide correct information. the people who have correct information, who take science seriously, who don't have strange, way-out theories about things but who base what they say on evidence and data need to
speak up more, because the other side that just keeps putting out misinformation and disinformation seems to be tireless in that effort. and it's going to be very difficult. ms. jean-pierre: all right. thank you, dr. fauci. thank you. >> dr. fauci, related to that, how are you preparing for the likely aggressive oversight from house republicans, the new majority, next year that they've been promising on some of these very questions? ms. jean-pierre: so, hold on one second. dr. jha is going to stay to take a couple more questions, but dr. fauci actually has to go. so, thank you so much, dr. fauci. dr. fauci: i can answer his question. ms. jean-pierre: you want to -- you want to answer it? dr. fauci: yeah. yeah. ms. jean-pierre: okay. he -- he says he'll answer it. okay, go ahead. go ahead. >> dr. fauci, can you also answer why there are millions more dollars going to the (inaudible)? >> you got to answer the (inaudible). ms. jean-pierre: i'm just trying to keep him on time. dr. fauci: all right. the answer is: if there are oversight hearings, i absolutely will cooperate fully and testify before the congress, if asked. you may not know, but i've testified before the congress a few hundred times -- (laughter) -- okay? -- over the last 40 years or so. so i have no trouble testifying. we can defend and explain and stand by everything that we've said. so i have nothing to hide. >> just a quick follow-up on that, dr. fauci. how much do you think -- >>
(inaudible.) >> dr. fauci, how much -- no, just a follow-up on the oversight, dr. fauci. ms. jean-pierre: all right. thank you, dr. fauci. >> time for a couple of questions? ms. jean-pierre: all right. he'll take a couple -- dr. jha. go ahead. you can pick up, and then we'll try and get some more around the room. >> the administration has requested $10 billion in this lame duck session for the urgent covid needs that still remain. that's less than half of what you had even requested during the summer. dr. jha: yeah. >> is that sufficient, in your mind, to meet these needs, not just to deal with covid but the strains on the hospital system we're seeing from flu, from rsv? and at a time when you're making these kinds of urgent requests and warnings, is it undercut at all by some of the rhetoric we've been hearing, even from the president? he talked about this thanksgiving being different than what we've seen in the past. and just two months ago, he talked about this, you know, covid crisis being over as we know it. dr. jha: yeah, so -- yeah, so you're absolutely right, we've asked for $10 billion. i think 9.7. but about $10 billion. it is less than what we had requested back in ja- -- back in march. and that's because we have -- we
have pulled resources from other things; i've talked to you about this from this podium. they're really critical other public health needs that we have pulled resources from to buy vaccines, to buy treatments. even the resources we're announcing today are from other really important programs. but that $10 billion is now critical. it is to make sure that we do have enough vaccines and treatments and tests to get americans to a point where eventually, as this response changes and we more normalize vaccine treatment purchases through the regular health system, we want to make sure that we do that in a orderly way. we want to make sure that we got uninsured and underinsured americans covered. so we need -- obviously need resources for that. what you heard from dr. fauci is we -- you know, we are at a point where this virus continues to evolve very, very rapid. and we updated the vaccines; they are working great right now. but the virus will continue to evolve. and at some point down the road next year, we're going to have to update the vaccines again. the truth is that for the long-run management of this virus, we need variant-resistant vaccines, we need vaccines that prevent transmission.
what you have seen is china make a very large investment in mucosal vaccines because they understand that that's how you deal with respiratory viruses. america is falling behind on this really important technology. a major part of our request is for funding for public-private partnerships to move those kinds of technologies forward, to move the next generation of treatments forward. so we are trying to be prudent, obviously, in requesting resources that we think are absolutely essential and necessary. and all i can say is congress needs to do its job and step up and protect the american people. ms. jean-pierre: go ahead, in the back. >> karine, thank you for allowing me to ask a question. dr. jha, my question simply has to do with vaccine mandates. even if the vaccine is safe, even if the vaccine is effective, there's always been a question, since the beginning, “should they be mandated? should people lose their jobs? should military members be forced out of the service over these vaccine mandates?” and to this day, i don't think the administration has backed away from those mandates.
is it fair at this point in the endemic to back away from vaccine mandates and do what you're doing today, which is simply encourage people to get their vaccines? dr. jha: yeah, so i think mandate decisions are always made at the local level by -- so you can have -- i have had a vaccine mandate that i have been subject to for 20 years for a flu vaccine, because as a physician, the hospital where i work said i could not step foot on campus after, i think, like, december 1st or something if i didn't have my flu vaccine. was that appropriate? the hospital thought it was, because they said that's how we make sure we protect other healthcare workers and that's how we protect patients. so this idea that in specific circumstances we can't have vaccine mandates -- we've had them forever. right? george washington had a vaccine mandate. well, they weren't quite vaccines then, but they were inoculations against smallpox. this is as old as america. we've done this. the military decides what it
needs to have a healthy fighting, working -- fighting force. this is a decision up to our military leaders. individual employers can make these decisions. so we've had a long history of this -- of individual, local decisions on these kinds of issues. and i think that is completely appropriate. ms. jean-pierre: go ahead. >> i just want to pick up the point that dr. fauci was making about misinformation. under the stewardship of elon musk, twitter seems to be welcoming back some people who spread covid vaccine misinformation. marjorie taylor greene's personal account is being reinstated, for example. do you see that as a problem as you're trying to battle misinformation? dr. jha: well, as dr. fauci said -- and this -- it is something that we were speaking about earlier -- the best way, i believe, to counter misinformation and disinformation is to spread good information, to spread science-based information, to have trusted voices. so i started my comments by reminding everybody that america's physicians, like the real leaders of american
medicine -- the people you trust for your cancer care and your heart care and your pediatrics care -- are out there telling you you need to go get a vaccine. you can decide to trust america's physicians, or you can trust some random dude on twitter. like, those are your choices. but i think the key here is to get trusted voices out there spreading truth, spreading science-based information. and for journalists and for people who run platforms, what i would say is: you should be thinking about what your personal responsibility is and do you want to be a source of misinformation and disinformation. that's up to -- up to those individuals, but i think it's really important for us, for me to be spreading good information. ms. jean-pierre: go ahead, peter. >> so, dr. fauci said that it is not surprising there's this rebound effect with the flu this season. why then does it seem like the country is caught so flat-footed by it? dr. jha: what do you mean caught flat-footed by it? >> well, people in this country are struggling to get basic antibiotics and antivirals. why?
dr. jha: so i'm not sure what -- what -- so, we have plenty of paxlovid. there's -- i've not heard people struggling. >> not covid. the flu and rsv. dr. jha: so, i don't know what antivirals you're thinking about for rsv. there aren't any that i'm aware of. there is a monoclonal that's for very, very high-risk children. we have that, and we have plenty of that. so i don't think anybody is struggling -- i'm not aware of anybody struggling to get the monoclonal for high-risk children, immunocompromised children. but -- >> there's a cnn headline today -- dr. jha: okay. >> “shortages of antivirals and antibiotics compound the stress of a rough season for viral illnesses in kids.” dr. jha: again, i'd have to look at the specifics. what i would say is we often see shortages of individual antibiotics. i'm not -- i'm not aware of antivirals that are in shortage. the single-most important thing that people need to do to protect themselves in this moment, where we have a lot of flu, still have a decent amount of rsv, still got a good amount of covid -- the single-most important thing people need to do is go get vaccinated. it keeps you out of the hospital. it protects -- it keeps you from
getting particularly sick. we have plenty of flu vaccines, we have plenty of covid vaccines, we have plenty of covid antivirals, as i said. i think the country is ready. we're ready to support hospitals that are getting into trouble. we have been working with jurisdictions over the last month, meeting with them. if -- if hospitals need help, we've offered that, and we stand ready to help hospitals get through this moment. ms. jean-pierre: all right, just two more. go ahead, chris. >> so, previously, you were talking about getting your vaccine or your booster before halloween. we're now well past that. is the administration behind on this? you're doing it six weeks before the end of the year, but you were saying to get fully protected over the holidays, this already had to have happened before. why wasn't there this sprea- -- this outreach before, when it really would have had a bigger effect? dr. jha: well, no, i -- so, two things. first of all, we have been talking about this, i would say, pretty consistently for a couple of months now. and i was out here talking about people getting it before. look, it's certainly not too late. if you think about the holidays that are coming, it takes a couple of weeks to get maximal benefits from your booster.
you start getting it relatively quickly. if people go out and get vaccinated this week, they will have a lot of protection during december, january, february onwards -- the time that we socialize the most. so we have been doing a lot to keep vaccines and vaccinations happening. what we're doing now is redoubling that effort and making it very clear that people need to go out and get vaccines. >> is this a signal that the country is behind the eight ball in getting boosted, though? (inaudible). dr. jha: no, i think we've had -- we've had slow and steady progress. like -- but the bottom line is -- strong and steady progress. but the bottom line is we need more americans vaccinated. and the weather is starting to get colder outside, as you can tell, and we know that this virus in the last two years -- each of the last two years -- we've seen substantial increases late december into january. and so going out and getting vaccinated right now is a great way to protect yourself if that pattern holds. ms. jean-pierre: go ahead, tam. last question. >> the federal government purchased 171 million doses of this updated vaccine, and so far, you've got 35 million into arms. that seems like a far cry from what the government has paid for. is your expectation that you'll
ever hit that 171? yeah. and -- dr. jha: so -- yeah, let's talk about the purchase we made. so, first of all, our goal was to make sure we had enough vaccines for everybody. in rural areas, for instance, you end up having to deal with the fact that you might have a vial of five doses and are only able to give out three. so that's always something that we factor in. right? second is, over time, there will be updates fda may -- and again, i don't want to get ahead of fda -- at some point make a decision that the bivalent vaccine is what you want to use as a primary series. when fda makes that decision, if they make that decision, we want to make sure we have plenty of vaccines for that. so we have made these purchases, thinking across all of the ways in which americans will need vaccines, and have made decisions to make sure there are plenty of vaccines available for americans wherever they are, in rural areas, in urban areas. and i think that was a really good decision to make sure that there's plenty of access no matter how our vaccine usage shifts. >> i don't know what the numbers are for the flu, but are you
expecting that, year after year, some number of americans will get their updated vaccine? and what number are you hoping to achieve? dr. jha: yeah, so we don't have a target. i do -- at this moment, i do believe that given where we are with covid and the evolution of this virus, i do expect that for a majority of americans, they will need an annual covid vaccine to have maximal protection. if you think about it, a majority of americans were eligible for a booster last fall. if they got it last fall, they -- they're eligible again this fall. it -- again, there's been a lot of, like -- it's hard to make specific predictions about this virus. but the -- but all the science and all the evidence we have suggests that we're probably going to need to update our vaccine again next year and have americans get vaccinated again next year. right now, our focus is: let's get americans protected this fall and winter with the updated covid vaccines we have. ms. jean-pierre: all right. thank you so much, dr. jha. dr. jha: thank you so much. ms. jean-pierre: thank you. dr. jha: thanks, everybody. ms. jean-pierre: all right. thank you, dr. jha.
>> furthermore, 1000 mw renewable energy generation projects, including 200 mw battery storage are signed for construction. we are about to finish an rsp process for initial processes we will generate. 1000 mw along with 500 mw in battery storage. in addition, we are installing solar and battery systems so homes under our programs and have allocated 500 for assisting low income households in acquiring solar panels and batteries. >> from the house natural resources committee hearing on puerto rico's power grid after recent natural disasters, watch the hearing tonight in its entirety 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. if you can also watch on c-span
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