Dr Fauci did not ‘admit’ Covid-19 vaccines aren’t working

30 November 2021
What was claimed

Dr Anthony Fauci has said that Covid-19 vaccines don’t protect against Covid or death.

Our verdict

He didn’t. He actually said that evidence from Israel had shown that immunity against Covid-19, hospitalisation from it, and to a certain extent deaths from it, appeared to decrease over time.

A blog post with the headline “Fauci Finally Admits Vaccines Don’t Protect Against Covid Or Death” is being shared on Facebook.

The page goes on to claim Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the President of the United States and director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was “forced to admit the fact that the vaccines do not reliably protect their recipients from serious Covid or death”. It claims he said this on a New York Times podcast when explaining data coming from Israel.

The page does correctly quote him as having said on the podcast: “They are seeing a waning of immunity, not only against infection, but against hospitalizations and to some extent, death, which is starting to now involve all age groups. It isn’t just the elderly.”

The blog claims his words “amount to the admission that the vaccinated are getting infected and more and more of them are ending up in hospital where they keep succumbing to Covid at increasing rates.” 

But this is not true. There is extensive research showing that the vaccines authorised for use in the UK do work against Covid-19, both in terms of reducing the risk of serious illness or death and reducing transmission.

Later in the piece, it claims that in the UK “72 percent of all Covid-related deaths were among the vaccinated”. We’ve written about this claim before and it’s correct for deaths in England between 23 August and 19 September 2021. However, it needs to be taken in the context of the levels of vaccine coverage, because a large proportion of the population are vaccinated, particularly in vulnerable groups. Therefore, more deaths in the vaccinated group is to be expected.

Dr Fauci was actually discussing whether the effectiveness of the vaccine in the months after vaccination decreases over time, which has been seen in Israel. In the UK, data which has not been peer-reviewed suggests that immunity may wane slightly, with some groups more affected than others. 

Dr Fauci was answering a question about why the death rate in the US is similar to where it was a year ago, despite the vaccine roll-out. He responded that the Delta variant was far more contagious and that many people eligible to be vaccinated had not been.

His quote in full, which followed this, was: “Point number three, we are seeing something that is really interesting, and I’d like to get a little bit more unpacking of it with you in a bit. And that is we’re starting to see waning immunity against infection and waning immunity in the beginning aspect against hospitalization.

“And if you look at Israel, which has always been a month to a month-and-a-half ahead of us in the dynamics of the outbreak, in their vaccine response and in every other element of the outbreak. They are seeing a waning of immunity, not only against infection, but against hospitalizations and to some extent, death, which is starting to now involve all age groups. It isn’t just the elderly. So if one looks back at this, one can say, do you know, it isn’t as if a booster is a bonus.

“But a booster might actually be an essential part of the primary regimen that people should have.”

The blog post correctly quotes him later in the podcast, again talking about the potential for booster Covid-19 vaccines, as saying: “It’s waning to the point where you’re seeing more and more people getting breakthrough infections, and more and more of those people who are getting breakthrough infections are winding up in the hospital.”

What the article doesn’t include, is what he said directly afterwards.

Immediately after this, he said: “So I think it would be a misrepresentation, Michael, to say that the vaccines don’t work. I don’t think we’ve given that the full rein to prove what it is that you need to make them work. And that’s the reason why I say, again, it’s my scientific opinion and projection that boosters will be an essential part of the protection.”

What’s happening with booster vaccines in the UK?

The latest advice at the time of writing from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the government on immunisation, is that all of those aged 40 or over be offered a Covid-19 booster vaccine, and those aged 18 to 39 will also be eligible for a booster when the NHS calls them forward.

It said: “The booster will be offered in order of descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group. In response to the changing risk posed by the Omicron variant, the booster will now be given no sooner than 3 months after the primary course.”

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because Dr Anthony Fauci did not say that vaccines don’t prevent Covid-19 or death.

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