Dr. Anthony Fauci has long cited 60% to 70% as the level of COVID infection/vaccination the country would need to achieve herd immunity — for the disease to fade and life to return to normal, writes the New York Times' Donald G. McNeil Jr.
But, but, but: "About a month ago, he began saying '70, 75 percent' in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC News, he said '75, 80, 85 percent' and '75 to 80-plus percent,'" McNeil writes.
What's new: "In a telephone interview," McNeil continues, "Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goalposts."
- "He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks."
"When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent ... Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, "I can nudge this up a bit," so I went to 80, 85. We need to have some humility here .... We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I'm not going to say 90 percent."
Go deeper: Keep reading McNeil's "How Much Herd Immunity Is Enough?" (subscription.)