Trevor Noah landed the first late-night interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases appeared remotely on Thursday night’s edition of “The Daily Social Distancing Show.”
Fauci began by characterizing the coronavirus as the “worst nightmare” from a pandemic perspective, more “frightening” than Ebola because it spreads more easily and is more “insidious” than the seasonal flu because it’s about 10 times as deadly.
As with his livestream interview with Steph Curry earlier in the day, Fauci’s primary objective in talking to Noah was communicating to young people why they should be more scared of the virus than they might think.
“We know that people who are older or people who have underlying respiratory infections have a higher chance of dying from the virus,” Noah said. “But I think people have started to believe that that means young people are immune and cannot get sick from coronavirus. What are people not understanding from the numbers?”
Fauci made two points in response. “Even though you are young, you are not absolutely invulnerable,” he said, explaining that even people in their 30s and 40s with no underlying conditions can end up in the hospital, requiring intensive care. “If you think you are completely invulnerable, you are incorrect,” he said.
“Second issue that is important, that even though you may not get seriously ill, you can get infected with relatively few symptoms, either asymptomatic or mild, relatively trivial symptoms, but then you can infect another person who would then infect a vulnerable person, who would then die,” he continued. “So you have a responsibility, not only to protect yourself, but you almost have a societal, moral responsibility to protect other people.”
Without criticizing Donald Trump directly, Fauci made sure to dismiss some of the president’s overly optimistic messages to the American people, from the viability of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment to the promise that people will be able to gather in large numbers by Easter.
“The virus is the clock, Trevor,” Fauci said. “So people say arbitrarily two weeks we’re going to be OK. It depends on the kinetics of the outbreak.” He explained that it is “unpredictable” when any country will complete its infection cycle but pointed out that it took about eight weeks for things to start leveling off in China. And that is with much stricter measures taken than have been put in place in the U.S.
As he was wrapping up the interview, Noah told Fauci, “Stay safe and wash your hands because of that fake cough you did.”