Anthony Fauci Warns Coronavirus Vaccine May Not Provide Herd Immunity If Anti-Vaxxers Refuse To Get It

Leading immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that a coronavirus vaccine might not be effective in providing herd immunity if enough people refuse to get the inoculation.

While speaking with CNN about the potential vaccine for COVID-19, which experts say is essential in returning to pre-coronavirus life, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned that unless more than tw0-thirds of Americans get the vaccine, it won't be effective.

Fauci's statement comes after a recent poll by the network showed that one-third of Americans wouldn't want to be vaccinated against the disease, even if it was provided at a low cost.

Assuming the vaccine has a 70-75 percent efficacy, if one-third of people didn't get vaccinated, the country wouldn't see the herd immunity necessary to protect the population from the virus.

Part of the problem, he said, is that "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."

That makes education from the federal government key, he warned, to combat the anti-vaccine movement in the U.S.

"It's not going to be easy," he said. "Anyone [who] thinks it will be easy is not facing reality. It's going to be very difficult."

The immunologist said the federal government is currently running a program to reach out to Americans, but he said that getting celebrities, sports figures, and community leaders to speak out about the importance of vaccinations is going to be important.

Fauci also explained that he isn't expecting the COVID-19 vaccine to be 100 percent effective, which is why a high percentage of people will need to get it.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends the daily coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 08, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla

"The best we've ever done is measles, which is 97 to 98 percent effective," he said. "That would be wonderful if we get there. I don't think we will. I would settle for [a] 70, 75% effective vaccine."

Fauci also discussed the fact that many areas are seeing an increase in cases, while some states have done a good job of controlling their outbreaks. New York, for instance, got an A rating from Fauci. Other places, he said, either opened too early or they opened at the right time but people failed to adhere to guidelines like wearing a mask. States like California, Texas, and Florida have all walked back steps to re-open their economies after a surge of the virus.

He cautioned that those areas where people are gathering closely without a mask are a "recipe for disaster."

He was also asked how the country was doing when it comes to contact tracing, something that experts deem essential for re-opening economies without an effective vaccine.

"I don't think we're doing very well," he replied.