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Fauci: Smallpox, polio would still exist in US if ‘false information’ prevalent back then

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Capitol Hill in March.Anna Moneymaker/NYT

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says he doesn’t believe smallpox and polio would have been eliminated in the US through vaccines if there was prevalent “false information” back then.

“If we had the pushback for vaccines the way we’re seeing on certain media, I don’t think it would’ve been possible at all to not only eradicate smallpox, we’d probably still have smallpox and we’d probably still have polio in this country,” Fauci told CNN host Jim Acosta on Saturday.

Fauci’s comments echo a similar call from the Biden administration for social media companies to help curb the spread of misinformation about vaccines for COVID-19. “They’re killing people,” President Biden said on Friday.


“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” Facebook spokesman Kevin McAlister said in a statement. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet.”

Over the past few weeks, the United States has been seeing an increase in coronavirus cases, especially in areas where vaccination rates are lower.

“Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated,” Biden said on Friday.

Acosta asked Fauci if vaccines are still effective against the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which public health experts have said is one of the reasons for the COVID-19 case uptick due to its ease of transmission. He said the vaccines help prevent severe disease after an infection.

Globe wire services were used in this report.

Lauren Booker can be reached at lauren.booker@globe.com.