Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is urging Americans not to be choosy with which COVID-19 vaccine they get.
There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines approved for use — one made by Moderna and one made by Pfizer. The FDA is currently weighing emergency use authorization for a single-shot vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, which could come as soon as this weekend.
Studies have shown that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have been more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine prevents the disease up to 70%.
Those results have led some Americans to consider waiting to get vaccinated until Moderna's or Pfizer's vaccine is available in their area. But during an appearance on the NBC's Today show Thursday, Fauci said that being selective when it comes to vaccines “is not a good idea.”
He noted that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still highly effective in preventing serious cases of COVID-19. A study released by the FDA Wednesday confirmed that 85% of participants avoided COVID-19 hospitalization, and no one who took the vaccine died.
“We want people not to get infected at all. But we also don’t want people to have to go to the hospital and get seriously ill and likely die,” Fauci said.
He added that if a large number of Americans delay vaccination, it could open the door to more COVID-19 variants.
"This is a race, Savannah, between the virus and getting vaccines into people," Fauci said. "The longer one waits on getting vaccinated, the better chance the virus has to get a variant or mutation."
A viral mutation occurs more frequently when it has a chance to spread in the community. Fauci says the quicker that Americans get vaccinated, the less chance COVID-19 has to mutate and potentially become harder to fight.
“You’re not going to get a variant if the virus is not spreading around the community. That means it’s replicating. Viruses don’t get a chance to mutate if they’re not replicating,” Fauci said. “The way you prevent that is A) do the public health measures we talk about all the time to prevent spread, and B) get vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you.”
Fauci added that while variants could pose a threat if left uncontained, current vaccines are all effective in preventing severe disease and death in variant strains.
Fauci also said that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will significantly increase the supply of vaccines in the country and speed up a return to normalcy.
"To have two is fine; to have three is absolutely better," Fauci said. "It's better because there are more choices. It's better because it increases the supply of vaccines."
“It’s nothing but good news.”