Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said he would support a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all air travel in the U.S. amid the ongoing spread of the delta variant of the virus.
“If you want to get on a plane and travel with other people then you should be vaccinated,” Fauci told theSkimm’s “Skimm This” podcast last week. The episode is set to air on Thursday.
His comments come amid ongoing concern about the highly transmissible delta strain and ongoing stubbornness in the country’s vaccination rates. President Joe Biden this month announced sweeping vaccine requirements for about 100 million American workers in an attempt to see more of the population inoculated. A bevy of businesses and airlines have also unveiled similar mandates in order to ensure the safety of their customers, as have school districts around the country, including that in Los Angeles, the second-largest in the nation.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) last week introduced new legislation that would require travelers to be fully vaccinated against the virus, or have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel, calling the proposal “just common sense.”
“These are easy steps we can take to make travel safer, as companies like United have already demonstrated with responsible policy changes,” Beyer said in a statement at the time. “Americans want a return to normal that includes traveling for business or pleasure, and Congress can help make people comfortable traveling again by putting basic requirements in place that prevent the spread of Covid.”
The country remains in the middle of a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases linked to the delta variant. The U.S. is averaging about 145,000 new infections each day, and while cases have begun to fall in some areas, hospitals in many states remain woefully short of intensive care beds.
Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Axios last week that the ongoing rates of transmission in the U.S. didn’t reflect “even modestly good control” of the pandemic.
“In a country of our size, you can’t be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day,” Fauci explained. “You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable.”
In his interview with theSkimm, Fauci also reiterated his support for vaccine mandates in schools, likening a requirement for COVID-19 vaccine inoculation to other standard vaccines used for decades.
“We already do that and have been doing that for decades and decades,” he told the podcast. “The school that I went to you had to be vaccinated or mesels, mumps rubella, polio.
He added: “The solutions that we have on hand are vaccines.”