Finally: Okay, yes, vaccinated people can get together and socialize, says Fauci

Now, see, was that so hard?

Three days ago he warned that he wouldn’t advise vaccinated people to go out to eat or to the movies, not because it’s dangerous for them but because it’s potentially dangerous for the majority of the population that hasn’t been immunized yet and with whom they’d be mixing in those public spaces. Vaccinated people *could* still spread the virus, even if they’re spreading it less than an unvaccinated person would.

Surely, though, in the name of giving people who’ve done their duty by getting the jab a reprieve from the misery of pandemic isolation, we could encourage those who’ve been immunized to get together with others who’ve been immunized. Fine, yes, be careful with strangers since they might still be vulnerable to infection, but if you know for a fact that all participants in an upcoming social engagement have been vaccinated, why the hell shouldn’t that engagement proceed?

Last night, in an interview with CNN, Fauci agreed. Why shouldn’t it? “Even though it isn’t backed by data,” he said about vaccinated people socializing safely, “it’s backed by common sense.” Which is true, and also (finally!) the right message in giving Americans who are on the fence about getting their shots a behavioral incentive to take the plunge. Want to have a dinner party near-term with eight to 10 close friends? No problem. Y’all know what to do.

Skip here to 5:30 of the clip and watch:

The key bit via the Daily Wire:

“I’m vaccinated, my wife vaccinated, my daughters vaccinated,” he continued. “Back before vaccination, if they wanted to come to visit you, they’d have to quarantine for a while, get tested, wear a mask. What we’re saying right now, even though it isn’t backed by data, it’s backed by common sense that if you have two vaccinated people, and they want to get together, be they family members, or friends that you know, are vaccinated, you can start getting, as individual people, even though the risk is not zero. The risk becomes extremely low when you have both parties vaccinated. So, we’re going to start seeing people saying, ‘Hey, the more people get vaccinated, I can have dinner with my family member that comes in.’”

That sounds suspiciously like Fauci saying, “Whatever the CDC ends up formally recommending, we know vaccinated people are going to get together and we know it’s safe.” So there’s your unofficial guidance. For once, the experts aren’t underselling the vaccine.

Coincidentally, he said this within about 12 hours of Cambridge University releasing new data showing that even one dose of Pfizer’s vaccine cuts the risk of transmission substantially. We already had evidence from Israel that a single dose dramatically reduces the chances of symptomatic illness, but the Cambridge data suggests that it reduces the chance of even asymptomatic infection as well:

The findings from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge indicated 75-per-cent protection from Covid-19.

The results also point to a four-fold decrease in the risk of asymptomatic Covid infection among healthcare workers who have been vaccinated for more than 12 days – suggesting the first dose will significantly reduce the spread of the virus…

Dr Mike Weekes, an infectious disease specialist at Cambridge University’s department of medicine, who co-led the study, hailed the findings as “great news”.

He said: “The Pfizer vaccine not only provides protection against becoming ill from SARS-CoV-2 but also helps prevent infection, reducing the potential for the virus to be passed on to others.”

That’s what Fauci means by common sense in allowing vaccinated people to socialize with each other. If each is mostly protected not just from illness but from infection, the mental-wellness benefits from letting them resume a degree of normalcy clearly grossly outweigh whatever risk of transmission there might be from the encounter.

It’s worth watching the full interview if you have time as he’s keen to hammer the point that people shouldn’t hold out for the Cadillac vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) if the only one available locally is a Lincoln (Johnson & Johnson). Pfizer and Moderna appear to be somewhat more effective than J&J is, but ultimately nothing is more effective in preventing infections than herd immunity. The faster we get there, the more lives are saved, which means getting *some* vaccine into as many people as possible as quickly as possible is the optimal strategy for limiting each individual’s risk, even if not all of those vaccines are equally potent. A public-health researcher built a computer model to test that theory, in fact, and came away feeling confident about it:

Consider an example: Say the United States was able to get one million people a day fully vaccinated, with a vaccine with 90 percent efficacy (about what’s been happening so far) and continued until 60 percent of the population was fully vaccinated. At this rate, it would take about six and half months.

For comparison, consider a scenario where people are fully vaccinated at a faster rate of 1.5 million a day with a lower efficacy vaccine of around 70 percent until 60 percent of the population was fully vaccinated. At this faster rate, this would take about four months.

We found that this faster scenario with the lower efficacy vaccine could end up preventing on average over 1.38 million more cases, over 51,000 more hospitalizations, and over 6,000 more deaths than the slower- vaccination, higher-efficacy-vaccine scenario. This underscores the importance of getting as much of the population vaccinated as soon as possible to slow the spread of the virus.

Anyone holding out for a Cadillac because they think a Lincoln isn’t quite in the same league is putting themselves and those around them at needless risk. The best protection we all have, including from scary variants that have yet to develop, is to close off any and all vectors of transmission as quickly as we can and deny the virus additional opportunities to mutate. Each new vaccine that hits the market makes that easier. Coincidentally, the FDA’s outside advisory panel of experts is meeting this afternoon to hopefully give a final thumbs up for J&J before agency approval this weekend.

By the way, note what Fauci says at one point about the Johnson & Johnson one-dose shot. That *may* become a two-doser eventually, especially if a new variant gets going, as one of the strategies for coping with a dangerous new strain is to simply “carpet-bomb” it with antibodies. Stay tuned.