University hosts Dr Anthony Fauci for discussion on COVID-19

Dr Anthony Fauci participating in University of Melbourne webinar
Dr Anthony Fauci said finding a vaccine “will be a showstopper for COVID”.

What it means to be a public expert, which countries are managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic well and the politics of mask wearing were some of the topics discussed in a special webinar event with Dr Anthony Fauci, advisor to six US presidents and regarded as “America’s doctor”.

Dr Fauci, who is Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, was taking part in a new series, Conversations on COVID-19: The Global View, hosted by University of Melbourne Professor Shitij Kapur, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.

He was joined by Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity – a joint venture between the University and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Dr Fauci said finding a vaccine “will be a showstopper for COVID”.

“We will have a vaccine for coronavirus in the next few months, I am very certain of that.”

Dr Fauci said experts must always be guided by the science and never be afraid to tell governments something they don’t want to hear.

“You should always remember that in order to maintain your credibility, you should speak consistently based on the science. The science guides what we’re going to do and what we are doing,” Dr Fauci said.

“To scientifically navigate through an evolving situation, information changes, it isn’t static. If you look at what we knew in the first few weeks of the outbreak and what we know now, things that we said early on are not the same as we’re saying now because the situation has changed. Science is a dynamic process and its self-correcting.”

Professor Lewin agreed, noting that much of Australia’s policy has been driven by science.

“A lot of our policies and our leadership have been driven by science, and that has made things easier here,” she said. “Closing down and opening down the country...was directly informed by mathematical modelling.”

On the life verses livelihood issue, Dr Fauci said he believes you can open the economy and manage the virus without shutting down.

“You’ve really got to try and articulate the importance of walking that fine line of maintaining the public health without so damaging the economy that you’re essentially negating the good that you’re trying to do,” Dr Fauci said.

“I firmly believe that you can continue to open to business [and] open up the country from an economic standpoint. But if you do that prudently with public health measures, that prevents surges of infection. We’ve seen it done before in countries and in sections of our own country.”

This event is the first of a new series, Conversations on COVID-19: The Global View. It follows the successful Life Beyond Coronavirus: The Expert View series and brings together leading experts to explore the COVID-19 response.

Watch the full discussion: