CDC's Dr. Collins: We Don't Know What Variants Are "Coming Next" | Video | RealClearPolitics

CDC's Dr. Collins: We Don't Know What Variants Are "Coming Next"

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National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins appeared on Neil Cavuto's FOX News show on Thursday to discuss Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) being COVID-positive, vaccinations and more.


CAVUTO:  But the playbook, I guess, would -- and you're the doctor here. I'm not.
 
But it just seems to be mutating or things changing almost by the day. And I know you follow the science, Doctor. I get that. But, in following it, it changes the script almost daily, now concerns -- and Dr. Fauci has raised this -- about variations of this delta virus that could be even worse and Lambda and all these others that could be even worse.
 
And did any of this even come up in initial discussions with President Trump or now with President Biden that there is a possibility this could veer this way or this way? You know what I'm saying?
 
Like, were those variables that you think, in retrospect, should have been telegraphed to the American people, even those who did hurry and get vaccinated?
 
COLLINS:  I don't think we probably spoke about it publicly as much as maybe we might have to warn people a year ago that this could be the case.
 
But who knew this whole thing was going to go the way it was and that we would have so many infections, 400 million infections in the United -- in the world by now? That's a scary number.
 
Basically, what happens, every time the virus gets into somebody's system, it has a chance of making a mistake when it's copying its instruction book. And that's a mutation. And even though this is a virus that's not particularly prone to do that -- it's not like influenza, which is changing its code all the time, or like HIV -- it still does it at a certain level.
 
CAVUTO:  Yes.
 
COLLINS:  And with such a huge range of opportunities for that to happen, because this virus has been in so many people over the course of the last year-and-a-half, these things happen. This is biology in action. This is a textbook of viral evolution.
 
And the other part of this -- and I'm sure this is what you're referring to -- is that we may not be done with it yet. Delta is our focus right now. Delta is bad enough.
 
CAVUTO:  Right.
 
COLLINS:  But, happily, delta is protected by people who've been vaccinated. But what's coming next, we don't know. The best way to prevent that is to reduce infections, which is to get people vaccinated now.
 
But here's the place where we got to think about not just our own country, but the whole world, because if a new variant pops up somewhere to else that the vaccines don't work for, it may find its way to us.
 
CAVUTO:  Well, to that point -- to that point about the world, Doctor -- I'm sorry, jumping on you there.
 
But the president is already looking at, we're told, making sure that any foreigners traveling from abroad here be vaccinated, or they're not allowed in. Separately, we're seeing that there's a move afoot that the nearly 1.5 million service members be fully vaccinated as well.
 
And a lot of people hear and see that type of development and say they're going to mandate this vaccine for everybody.
 
Do you think vaccines should be mandated for everyone?
 
COLLINS:  Well, the federal government is not doing so.
 
I do think some businesses are doing so. Certainly, hospitals, where you have vulnerable people, you would maybe want to consider. We are thinking about that right now, because I run a research hospital at NIH.
 
CAVUTO:  Right.
 
COLLINS:  Shouldn't the health care providers or anybody who comes in contact with a patient who's immunocompromised, shouldn't they be vaccinated? Is that not a reason to require it? And I think there are strong arguments for that.
 
And this is not a new idea. Go back to 1905...
 
CAVUTO:  Right.
 
COLLINS:  ... Jacobson vs. Massachusetts. The Supreme Court said there are times where the government can mandate vaccination. It was smallpox at that point.
 
CAVUTO:  How many more people do you think will get vaccinated if the FDA approves it?
 
COLLINS:  I hope a lot, Neil.
 
I know there are people who are troubled about the fact that we haven't seen the full approval yet of the vaccines. It's still under emergency use. And we hear that FDA, after pulling out all the stops, may be within a month or so of doing that.
 
And if that is what's been holding people back, I would just urge them, don't wait for that, because I think the likelihood that FDA will not approve these vaccines is at this point extremely low, because we know so much about them.
 
CAVUTO:  Right.
 
COLLINS:  But if it's -- if that's what it's going to take...
 
CAVUTO:  All right.
 
COLLINS:  ... well, bring it on.
 
CAVUTO:  Got it.
 
Dr. Francis Collins, I'm sorry to hear about the nasty e-mail you get. I get a little bit of that myself.
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