Dr. Anthony Fauci says he wishes former US president Donald Trump would use his popularity among Republicans to persuade his followers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a round of interviews on the morning news shows, the government’s top infectious disease expert laments polling showing that Trump supporters are more likely to refuse to get vaccinated, saying politics needs to be separated from “commonsense, no-brainer” public health measures.
Fauci says it would be a “game changer” for the country’s vaccine efforts if the former president used his “incredible influence” among Republicans.
“If he came out and said, ‘Go and get vaccinated. It’s really important for your health, the health of your family and the health of the country,’ it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him,” Fauci tells “Fox News Sunday.”
Trump has urged people to get vaccinated, doing so again late last month at a conservative political gathering in Florida.
But he hasn’t been among former presidents and other public officials who have been vaccinated on camera to encourage others to get the shot. It was revealed only recently that he was vaccinated in private at the White House before leaving office in January.
Trump did not appear in a new public service campaign for the COVID-19 vaccine that included former US presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Polls have shown Republicans joining Blacks and other groups in expressing greater skepticism than others about the safety of the vaccines.
Fauci says he doesn’t understand the resistance.
“What is the problem here? This is a vaccine that is going to be lifesaving for millions of people,” he says on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He adds: “I mean, I just can’t comprehend what the reason for that is when you have a vaccine that’s 94-95% effective and it is very safe. I just don’t get it.”