(WJHL) — Leading COVID-19 expert Dr. Anthony Fauci joined Virginia state leaders in the weekly webinar Facts and Faith Fridays in an effort to break down recent COVID-19 statistics and debunk myths surrounding vaccine distribution.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provided viewers with the following facts:

  • Of the nearly 90 million cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide, the United States has experienced the worst of any country with over 20 million cases and nearly 360,000 deaths due to the virus.
  • COVID-19 is the worst pandemic the world has seen in 102 years.

Fauci noted the skepticism surrounding vaccinations and responded to several areas of questioning and doubt.

Doubt: “The vaccine came out too quickly.”

That speed was related to extraordinarily breathtaking scientific advances in vaccine platform technologies that allowed us to do in months what normally would’ve taken years.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Doubt: “Is it really safe and effective?”

The decision as to whether or not this is an effective vaccine was made by an independent body that is beholden not to the government, not to the company, but to the American public. It’s called a Data and Safety Monitoring Board. They decided that the data was striking 94-95% efficacious in preventing clinical disease. The FDA makes the final decision as to whether it’s safe and effective enough to go out to the general public. Here again, career scientists — not politicians; they together were the totally independent advisory committee — then make the recommendation whether the vaccine should go out to general public, and they made that recommendation.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Doubt: “What about the new variants?”

Right now, the scientists in the UK have taken a close look at this and have determined that the antibodies that are induced by the vaccine that we’re using now are still very effective against the mutant strain. We will also be looking at that very carefully and following it carefully, and if anything changes, then we will be able to make a modification in the vaccine, but right now, the data indicate that the UK mutant is still quite sensitive to the antibodies that are induced by the vaccine. But then again, we are going to be very careful. We are going to continue to follow that to make sure that it stays that way.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Doubt: “What about the possible side effects?

The side effects of the vaccine in the first dose are generally mild and typical type of side effects you get when you get a flu shot or any other shot that you get. You get a little ache in the arm, which I got…I didn’t feel it until maybe 6 to 10 hours after. I got vaccinated in the morning, and before I went to bed, I felt a little ache in my arm but not enough to interfere with my going to sleep…I didn’t get any aches or chills or fever, but some people do…The incidence of severe side effects is very rare. There have been some allergic anaphylactic reactions to the tune of about 11 per one million people that get the vaccine, and it almost exclusively is in individuals who have history of strong allergic reactions.

Dr. Anthony Fauci