The nation’s top infectious disease scientist took to a webinar Monday to answer questions from Prince George’s County, Maryland, residents about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, sought to dispel rumors, fears and mistrust by offering assurances that the vaccines approved by the FDA are safe, even though they were developed in less than a year’s time.
“That speed was not a reflection of cutting corners,” Fauci said in the webinar hosted by Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. “It was a reflection of the extraordinary advances that were made in the science of vaccine platform development.”
Among the questions: Can someone catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?
“It’s impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine,” said Fauci, explaining that the virus is not used in the vaccine.
Fauci also acknowledged mistrust in the medical system from some in the African-American community who are mindful of unethical federal medical trials, most notoriously the Tuskegee Experiment, in which cases of syphilis in Black men from Alabama were left untreated.
“The first thing we need to do is to respect the concern of people of color,” said Fauci. “The ethical safeguards that have been put into place since Tuskegee … are such that those types of things would be impossible under today’s conditions.”
Fauci also swatted down a rumor that the vaccine could alter a person’s DNA: “Absolutely not; the vaccine has absolutely nothing to do with modifying your DNA.”
In response to a questioner’s concern about waiting until summer to get the vaccine, Fauci said, “You’re putting yourself at an extra risk, and that’s the reason why we tell people when the vaccine becomes available to you, please take it and don’t wait.”
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