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Public Acceptance Key to COVID-19 Vaccine Success, Fauci Says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 30, 2020.

The top U.S. infectious disease expert is warning that while significant progress is being made on potential COVID-19 vaccines around the world, the public must be convinced they are safe, effective and necessary.

In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press late Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said that development of a coronavirus vaccine is moving quickly because of "the urgency of the situation." But that may also raise concerns vaccines may not be safe.

Fauci said it will take a lot of community outreach to reassure people. “We want to make sure that we're very transparent, that people appreciate that that speed is not compromising safety, nor is it compromising scientific integrity."

Fauci said health officials and political leaders will also have to deal with those people who don’t believe any vaccinations are safe, as well those with anti-science views as well as people who just do not want to be told what to do.

He said, “Those are all obstacles we have to take head on and we've got to make as much open, honest and transparent outreach to the community to convince them that getting vaccinated is for their benefit and the benefit of the community.”

Fauci also expressed concern about the recent surges of COVID-19 cases in states around the country. He said there are five things that anybody can do that he believes can prevent a resurgence of the virus. He said, “Wearing of masks. Avoid crowds and congregations of people. Stay physically distant, 10 feet. Close the bars. That's where a lot of the transmission takes place, and practice personal hygiene like washing your hands."

More than 4 million people in the U.S. have been infected by the coronavirus and the death toll is nearing 150,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.