The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Sunday he was hopeful that the Food and Drug Administration would grant full approval to the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the month and predicted that the possible measure will spur a wave of vaccine mandates in the private sector, as well as in schools and universities.
The FDA has only granted approval for emergency use of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but the agency is expected to give full approval to Pfizer soon.
The Biden administration has stated that the federal government will not require vaccines beyond the federal workforce, but increasingly urges state and local governments, as well as businesses, to consider such mandates. Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said “mandates must be met at the local level” to help slow the spread of the virus.
“I hope, I do not predict, I hope it will be within the next few weeks. I hope it will be within the month of August,” Fauci said of the FDA approval of the vaccine. “If that is the case, you will see the empowerment of local businesses, giving mandates that could be colleges, universities, places of business, a whole variety and I strongly support it. The time has come … We ‘have to take a step. more for people to get vaccinated. “
Fauci’s comments come as the Biden administration is weighing what levers it can push to encourage more unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated as the delta variant continues to rise across much of the United States.
Biden recently passed rules that require federal workers to provide proof of vaccination or face regular testing, mask mandates and travel restrictions. Biden is also awaiting a formal recommendation from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the possibility of requiring US troops to be vaccinated.
The administration has become more vocal in its support of vaccine mandates at a time when high-profile companies have informed employees that coronavirus vaccination requirements are in the works, and some localities have adopted or are contemplating requirements. of shots for indoor dining.
United Airlines informed its employees that they must be fully vaccinated before October. 25 to five weeks after the FDA grants full approval to one of the vaccines, whichever comes first.
Disney and Walmart have announced vaccination mandates for white-collar workers, and Microsoft, Google and Facebook said they will require proof of vaccination for employees and visitors to their offices in the United States. Tyson Foods has also announced that it will require all US employees to be vaccinated by November.
There have also been setbacks.
Last week, the United States Supreme Court was asked to block an Indiana University plan to require students and employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It is the first time the superior court has been asked to evaluate a vaccination mandate and comes as some corporations, states and cities are also contemplating or have adopted vaccination requirements for workers or even dining indoors.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, said Sunday that she personally supports a vaccine mandate for educators.
“As a matter of personal conscience, I think we have to work with our employers, not oppose vaccine mandates,” said Weingarten, who estimated that about 90% of AFT members are already vaccinated.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, on Sunday almost backed the vaccine mandates, saying, “I celebrate when I see companies decide they are going to force that on their employees.”
“Yes, I think we should use all the public health tools that we can when people are dying,” Collins said.
Fauci and Weingarten spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Collins appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”