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Debunked: No, Anthony Fauci did not say a Covid-19 vaccine must be delivered to people without 'proper studies'

Fauci has been falsely quoted on a number of social media posts.

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A SOCIAL MEDIA post has falsely claimed that Anthony Fauci said full studies on a Covid-19 vaccine can be done after people are injected with it. 

This post from an Irish Facebook page features an image of Fauci along with the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, who is not mentioned elsewhere in the post.

Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States. 

The post claims that Fauci said the following:

“Just because thousands of independent doctors are saying Hydroxychloroquine cures all Covid-19 patients, it is not valid until we have a major study done.”

“As soon as the Covid-19 vaccine is manufactured it must be immediately delivered to health care professionals world wide for immediate human injection. Proper studies can be performed later.”

fauci facebook post The Facebook post with alleged quotes from Anthony Fauci.

This post was published on 25 May and has been shared and liked by hundreds of people. A different image with the same quotes has been shared thousands of times by people on Facebook in the United States over the past month.  

There is no evidence Fauci said these exact quotes at any time.

We will break down each of these two claims individually. 

Hydroxychloroquine

“Just because thousands of independent doctors are saying Hydroxychloroquine cures all Covid-19 patients, it is not valid until we have a major study done.”

This first quote seems to be closely linked to an interview Fauci did with Fox and Friends on 3 April.

In this, he is asked about a report from Sermo, a data collection company and online social network for doctors. 

This study from 2 April of over 6,000 physicians in 30 countries found that one-third of doctors surveyed said they prescribed hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19. In Spain, this figure was 72%. 

“We don’t operate on how you feel, we operate on what evidence is and data is. So although there is some suggestion with the [Sermo] study that was just mentioned… I think we have got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” Fauci said on the show.

We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one, is truly safe and effective.

“But when you don’t have that information it is understandable why people may want to take something with even the slightest hint of it being effective, and I have no problem with that.” 

He added that doctors can prescribe Hydroxychloroquine to patients ‘off-label’, which means prescribing a drug that has been approved by the FDA to treat a different condition than your own. 

This first quote is not directly from Fauci. It does, however, echo his sentiment in this interview that further studies are needed before definitively saying any drug is a treatment or ‘cure’ for Covid-19. 

Fauci said earlier on 16 March that any “anecdotal evidence” of Covid-19 treatments still needs validation in randomised clinical trials. 

“Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority,” Fauci said. 

Despite Trump claiming he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for weeks, concerns have been raised about its use for treating Covid-19. 

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization suspended clinical trials of the drug as a potential treatment for Covid-19 after a study published in the Lancet medical journal suggested it could increase the risk of death among Covid patients. 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the executive group of the trial, in which hundreds of hospitals across the world have tested several possible treatments for Covid-19 patients, had suspended trials using hydroxychloroquine as a precaution.

Some countries, including Brazil and India, have continued to back the drug as a treatment for Covid-19 while France has told doctors to no longer prescribe it to patients with Covid-19. 

Vaccine injected before proper study

“As soon as the Covid-19 vaccine is manufactured it must be immediately delivered to health care professionals world wide for immediate human injection. Proper studies can be performed later.”

A search of interviews, social media, factchecks from several other organisation, US news websites and news wire services shows nothing to back up the claim that Fauci has ever said this.

Donald Trump claimed earlier this month that the US will have a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this year, but Fauci has said it would take “a year to a year and a half” at least before any vaccine would be safe for human injection. 

Previous vaccines have taken years to develop and approve and although the process will be accelerated for Covid-19, there is no evidence to suggest any vaccine would not undergo rigorous clinical testing before being made available to the public. 

Vaccines need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in European countries. 

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The EMA said a vaccine for Covid-19 could be ready in one year in an “optimistic” scenario based on trials underway at the moment.

“We can see the possibility if everything goes as planned that some of them [vaccines] could be ready for approval in a year from now,” Marco Cavaleri, the EMA’s head of vaccines strategy, said on 14 May.

The EMA has sped up the process for authorising vaccines due to Covid-19, a process that usually takes between 10 and 15 years.

There is no evidence Fauci said a vaccine could be distributed without proper study beforehand, and this would also not be allowed by the FDA or the EMA.

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- With reporting by AFP

***

There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 

STOP, THINK AND CHECK 

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere. 

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate. 

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie.  

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