A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, September 19, 2021 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive .
RADDATZ: A lot to discuss this morning. So let’s bring in the president’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Good morning to you, Dr. Fauci. Were you disappointed that the panel did not recommend vaccines for all? Did you think that was a mistake?
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No. Not necessarily at all. We had a plan to be able to do it all, to go down to everyone, but we had said right from the beginning that this would be contingent upon the examination of all of the data that the FDA accumulated that would be discussed with their advisory committee, and that’s exactly what happened.
So as you well know, the approval was for people 65 years of age or older, and a considerable number of people who are 18 to 64 who have underlying conditions that put them at a higher risk for severe disease, and people from 18 to 64 who are in institutional or occupational situations that would put them at an increased risk to exposure and infection. So that’s a pretty good chunk of the people.
If the decision was made based on the data that they examined — but that was always the plan, Martha, to make a proposal to be ready and prepared to do the entire amount right from the beginning with everybody, but if not, to be prepared to do what the advisory committee and the FDA finally authorized, which is fine. So I'm not disappointed. I think the process worked.
RADDATZ: This seemed to come down to the lack of enough data. Some FDA experts saying that evidence from Pfizer and others was not enough to convince them this third shot would be that effective in stopping the spread. Is that right?
FAUCI: Well, I mean, it depends on what you mean about stopping the spread and protecting people from getting severe disease and hospitalization. There are two different concepts there.
We would hope that ultimately when we get the proper vaccination to everyone or we get a more extensive distribution of the boosters, that it will have an effect of stopping the spread, but the — but the goal of this particular decision was to prevent people from getting serious disease who are at risk, such as the elderly, and those that have underlying conditions. So there’s a multistep process in this.
Ultimately, Martha, we hope that enough people will be vaccinated either with the primary regimen or following a third shot booster with Pfizer that we will get that effect of preventing spread.
RADDATZ: And Dr. Fauci, you’ve repeatedly cited the Israeli data showing waning vaccine protection across all age groups as justification for booster shots. Yet the panel revealed that Israel has different definitions of severe illness, which also look to play into the decision?
FAUCI: Well, see, that’s the reason why you get the data, and you present it to a group of very qualified people to examine it. What’s happening, Martha, is that in real-time more and more data are accumulating. So I would tell you, and I can predict with some confidence, that three, four weeks from now as we get more data from the Israelis and more data from our own United States cohorts, that there will be a continual re-examination of that data, and potential modification of recommendations.
But based on what the committee, the advisory committee saw in that presentation on Friday, based on that, they made a decision to do what we just said about individuals in certain categories, which is fine. But the story is not over because more and more data is coming in and will be coming in.
RADDATZ: And the recommendation is just for the Pfizer vaccine booster. What about Moderna and Johnson & Johnson? How quickly might they have data?
FAUCI: Yeah, good question, Martha, because everybody is asking that, understandably. It is not any more than a couple of weeks away, two to three weeks or so away. Right now the data are coming in from both the J&J as well as the Moderna. People say these individuals are being left behind. By no means. Within a few weeks we’ll be examining it in the same manner as we did with the Pfizer data.
RADDATZ: You know, you yourself have said how important consistency is, and you mentioned earlier President Biden talked about planning for September 20th rollout for all Americans. I know he said planning. I know he said it depends on the FDA. But isn’t a timeline like that just confusing to people?
FAUCI: I’m not — I'm necessarily thinking (ph) that that’s the case, Martha, because we want to be ready. These are the kinds of things that when you make a decision, you don’t snap your finger and it gets rolled out the next day. And that’s, I think, the thing that the people in the United States need to understand.
The plan was that we have to be ready to do this as soon as a decision is made. And when you have a plan, you put a date on it, and you say, we want to be able to get ready to roll out on the week of September the 20th. And as it turns out, when the FDA makes their final determination and very soon thereafter this coming week, you’re going to see the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that advises the CDC to perhaps even fine-tune that, so it can be implemented expeditiously.
So, getting that date I don’t think was confusing. We needed a date to be able to say, let’s get ready to roll this out pending the decision and the deliberation by the FDA and, ultimately, the CDC.
RADDATZ: And, Dr. Fauci, I do want to ask you about children. In many areas of the country, pediatric cases and hospitalizations are at an all-time high in this.
I went to the emergency room to report on this at Children’s National, and was really shocked. There were people lining out the door for sick children and COVID, of course, hitting them hard.
When do you think there will be a vaccine for children?
FAUCI: It will certainly be this fall. When you talk about the rollout for vaccines again, there will be a little bit of a different in time frame, maybe a couple of weeks between Pfizer and Moderna and others.
So, what we’re going to almost certainly see is that sometime in the next few weeks as we get into October, we’ll be able to see the vaccines for children get enough data to be presented for safety and immunogenicity, but when it gets to Moderna, it will probably be a few weeks beyond that, maybe the end of October, beginning to have November.
But in the fall, you know, rather than specifically saying what week, sometime in the mid to late fall, we will be seeing enough data from the children from 11 down to 5 to be able to make a decision to vaccinate them.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks so much, Dr. Fauci. That’s good news to end on. Thanks for joining us.
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