Meghan McCain: C’mon, it’s time to replace Fauci

My problem with this argument is: Replace him with whom? Which Team Biden advisor do we imagine would be any more sanguine about taking off masks and returning to normal than Fauci is?

One of their people wanted a full national lockdown last winter to try to tamp down new cases, for cripes sake. Fauci’s an optimist by the standards of this crowd.

What has McCain irked is one of the answers he gave during an interview yesterday, when he was asked whether grandparents who have been fully vaccinated can go hug their grandkids again. I wouldn’t even bother asking him that; obviously people who have been immunized are going to reunite with their families after a year apart. The scientists can be as careful as they like with their guidance for post-vaccine behavior, but for a population that’s never been sticklers about social distancing to begin with, getting the jab will be tantamount to saying “pandemic over.” The reason Fauci is hesitant is because he knows that some transmission can still occur from vaccinated people to unvaccinated ones (albeit at a lower rate than between two unvaccinated people) and so he’s making his advice as cautious as possible. Case in point:

The president’s chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) made the comment in response to a question from CNN host Dana Bash on Sunday about whether or not he was seeing his family.

“Right now? Not yet,” Fauci told CNN. “I would look forward to it within a reasonable period of time as the rest of my family gets vaccinated. “I’m with my wife every day—she has gotten her first dose and will soon get a second dose.

“But my children when they get vaccinated, obviously I look forward to seeing them. And I’m sure that by that time recommendations will come out to guide us in a more precise way.”

He’s imagining a scenario where vaccinated grandparents reunite with their unvaccinated adult children and end up infecting them, an unlikely but not impossible scenario that could lead to severe cases. When he was asked about grandparents reuniting with grandkids, he hedged — likely because he knows the risk of a severe case there is minuscule but partly too, as you’ll see in the clip below, because CDC guidance on post-vaccine behavior is apparently in the works and he doesn’t want to get ahead of them. (Rochelle Walensky had a little problem with that recently, remember?) Plus, realistically, a reunion between grandparent and grandchild will necessarily involve the adult child too, which raises the odds of infection.

As a Twitter pal said this afternoon, Fauci and the entire health-care bureaucracy have been spooked by the persistent reluctance of some Americans to take basic precautions against infection, such as by wearing masks, and have taken a hyper-conservative line towards relaxing restrictions because of it. If he endorses the idea of any particular subgroup lifting precautions — “sure, vaccinated grandparents, go hug your grandkids, it’s safe!” — then some more vulnerable segment of society will take that as license to let down their guard too. That’s been a chronic problem for Fauci and it’s at the heart of McCain’s frustration with him. Instead of just delivering the science straight by admitting that it’s extremely low-risk for vaccinated grandparents and grandkids to get together, he’s trying to engineer certain social outcomes by shading his guidance. He did it with masks at the start of the pandemic when he discouraged people from wearing them, fearing that a resulting shortage would leave medical professionals unprotected. He did it again with his estimates of herd immunity, offering an unrealistically rosy scenario to try to encourage people to get vaccinated. And he’s doing it with the vaccine, underselling the benefits because he’s afraid that having a fully immunized segment of the population behaving as though the pandemic is over (which it is, for them) will lead unimmunized people to behave the same way.

There’s really no reason why he and Biden can’t say, “If everyone at a get-together has been fully vaccinated for more than two weeks, then sure, go ahead and have that get-together. Masks optional.” In fact, that’s the strongest possible pro-vaccine message since it requires buy-in from an entire group, not just the individual getting vaccinated. If your circle of friends wants to hang out again, there’s an easy way to do so with the CDC’s full endorsement. Everyone gets the jab. Simple as that. He shouldn’t need a big CDC huddle in order to say that.

One thing McCain gets wrong, though, is when she says the U.S. vaccine rollout is a shambles. Perhaps it is in the abstract, although we did 1.8 million doses yesterday alone and among major nations we’re second only to the UK in terms of percentage who have received their first dose. But it’s not a shambles comparatively. If you want to see a shambles, I’ll show you a shambles. Check this out:

These Euro anti-vaxxers are going to end up incubating the next vaccine-resistant strain. And maybe the next one after that, and the next one after that.

Anyway, a lot of attention will be paid to the CDC’s recommendations on family reunions for vaccinated people when they finally arrive. (Uh, why haven’t they already?) They sh*t the bed with their ultra-cautious guidance on reopening schools, which just so happened to dovetail with teachers unions’ priorities. If they undersell the vaccine by encouraging unreasonable distancing even between people who have been immunized, the culture’s going to tune out Walensky and her agency to whatever degree it hasn’t already.

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