Dr Anthony Fauci is now arguing that if the US government faced the same level of vaccine hesitancy when the smallpox and polio vaccines were rolled out, the diseases would still be running rampant in the US.
As President Biden ponyed the finger at Facebook as the main culprit behind underwhelming vaccine uptake in the US, Fauci, the White House Covid-19 adviser, took a shot at the conservative cable news media.
RT reports: Responding to CNN’s Jim Acosta question of whether Tucker Carlson’s hugely popular show on Fox News would have prevented the eradication of dangerous diseases in the US had it been around decades ago, Fauci appeared to agree.
“Do you think we could have eradicated polio or defeated the measles if you had Fox News night after night warning people about these vaccine issues that are, you know, bunk?” Acosta asked Fauci during an interview on Saturday.
“If we had had the pushback for the vaccines the way we’re seeing on certain media, I don’t think it would have been possible at all not only to eradicate polio, we probably would still have smallpox,” Fauci said, before adding that he was “certain” that polio would have been still active in the US.
The US had its last outbreak of smallpox back in 1949, and since 1972, the vaccine is no longer commonly administered. The last wild case globally was in 1977. Shortly after 9/11, President George W. Bush ordered smallpox vaccinations for 500,000 US troops in high-risk parts of the world and frontline healthcare workers who were willing to get vaccinated. However, at the time there were concerns about possible life-threatening side effects of the jab, with the New York Times reporting that “the decision had been difficult for President Bush, given the probability that some people would die of the vaccine’s side effects.”
According to a 2003 model study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, if 60 percent of the US population was vaccinated, this would be beneficial in an unlikely scenario of a national bioterrorist attack with the smallpox virus, but otherwise would have caused some 482 deaths nationally.
The US has been polio-free since 1979, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) crediting “a successful vaccination program” with two vaccines introduced in the mid-1950s and early 1960s for uprooting the disease in the US. Worldwide, polio cases have plummeted dramatically since the late 1980s, with the World Health Organization reporting only 22 cases in 2017. And while polio has been almost eradicated, save for Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it remains epidemic, the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign was called into question in light of a 2019 WHO report voicing concerns that more polio cases were attributed to a cheap oral vaccine than to a wild virus.