Fauci says building coronavirus vaccine trust is essential: 'We have a task cut out for us'

Polls show roughly half of Americans may refuse vaccine based on 'speed of development'

Amid polls underscoring many Americans’ distrust in coronavirus vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Wednesday said community engagement and outreach is essential for success.

“We’ve got to be doing a lot of community engagement and community outreach to get people to understand the two things that bother people, they say, ‘Well, maybe we did this too quickly,’” Fauci said during the virtual Bloomberg American Health Summit 2020. “They need to understand the speed is really a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances that have been made that allowed us to do things in weeks to months that normally would’ve taken several years.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in Washington, D.C., June 30, 2020. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in Washington, D.C., June 30, 2020.  (Al Drago/Pool via Reuters)

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Fauci’s comments come on the brink of likely FDA emergency approval for Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine candidate. The highly anticipated meeting to discuss Pfizer’s emergency use authorization, EUA, will be held Thursday, Dec. 10.

During the Bloomberg Summit, Fauci told Katty Kay, "BBC World News America" anchor, that the fast vaccine process didn’t compromise safety or scientific integrity.

“The process that went into deciding the safety and efficacy was both independent and transparent,” he continued. 

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According to a Gallup poll conducted in October, 58% of Americans said they would get the COVID-19 vaccine with the "speed of development" the most frequently referenced reason for refusing it. The results show an uptick from September, when 50% of Americans said they would get the injection. Gallup attributed the spike in willingness among Democrats.

But that still leaves some 42% – roughly 158 million – potentially avoiding the chance to be immunized.

“We need to make sure people understand that, particularly those demographic groups that have not been treated well historically by the medical establishment, and I refer specifically to the African American population and to some extent the Latinx population,” Fauci continued.

“So we have a task cut out for us that we’ve got to go the extra mile to reach out and engage the community.”

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Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this report.