As pundits argue over personal liberties, 68 million Americans remain unvaccinated and the COVID pandemic rages on. With this in mind, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave the 2021 Beatty Lecture at McGill University, where Dr. Fauci was asked, “How do you think we should approach the value of individual freedom within the context of this global pandemic?” Read on for his answer, and five life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Regarding the question of “individual freedom,” Dr. Fauci said, “That is an extraordinarily relevant question, but a very difficult question because people interpret that in different ways. For the record,” he added, “I’m smiling inside when I say this, because I have this kind of proofreading mechanism. Like I know everything I say, some phrase is going to get taken out and tonight it’ll be on Fox News tomorrow. It’ll be on Breitbart. You know, it just depends. But in reality, since I’m never afraid of saying what the truth is: I think the most important thing is to try and address people who have that attitude in trying to convince them of the importance of the safety for themselves, their family and society. Number one, with the facts and do it with a trusted messenger, not necessarily me or you, but someone who they feel they trust, be that a clergyman be that a family member, a sports figure, someone who can relate to them in a non confrontated way.”
“Having said that, now I’m going to answer your question,” said Dr. Fauci. “I think what people have to appreciate that indeed you do have personal liberties for yourself. You should be in control of that, but you are a member of society. And as a member of society reaping all the benefits of being a member of society, you have a responsibility to society. And I think each of us, particularly in the context of a pandemic that’s killing millions of people, you have got to look at it and say, there comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual right. Of making your own decision for the greater good of society. There’s no doubt that that’s the case.”
“I think when people realized, well, it’s my body. If I don’t, if I get infected, I don’t really care because I’m a young person and I likely, and they’re correct. That’s the point they are correct. It is likely if I’m a young, healthy person that I’m not going to have a serious outcome,” said Fauci. “But what sometimes gets blocked with blinders is that you could get infected, get no symptoms or mild symptoms and inadvertently and innocently pass it onto someone else that will kill them. I mean, that will kill them. And I think we really got to get people to understand that, you know, there are so many examples that you can give analogies of. You know, I want to drive 95 miles an hour on the highway, and it’s my choice. If I don’t get, if I get hurt, that’s my problem. No, it’s somebody who you might kill’s problem.”
Dr. Fauci said he didn’t have an answer about why there’s so much misinformation. “I don’t understand what is going on in society,” he said. “It worries me quite frankly. It worries me deeply. I can say I lose as much sleep to the extent that I get any sleep. These days I lose as much sleep worrying about the overall implications of the rampant spread of misinformation and disinformation on society in general, not just, um, how you address an outbreak. It’s terrible how we’ve gotten into a situation. And I think it is the the phenomenon of social media, because some people might think some crazy thing. And if you’re alone and say, well, you know, I’m alone on this. And then all of a sudden they get on social media. And all of a sudden they realize that there are a lot of other people that are fortifying, and social media has replaced the edited media, where you have responsible people sorting out what’s real and what’s not, and reporting it. Now, everything seems to be normalized. It’s as easy to say something crazy as it is to say something that’s based on years of scientific evidence. And then when you get in an argument it’s false equivalency, you know, a Nobel Laureate who discovered this says this, but Joe Jones on their Facebook said that. So, you know, one-to-one equally could be correct. That has to be frightening because it’s happening.”
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.