Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Dr. Fauci delivers COVID-19 update at joint Grand Rounds

Two men in masks; one a military soldier, and the other wearing a suit. Army Lt.Col. (Dr.) Jason Blaylock, chief of Medicine at Walter Reed-Bethesda, presents Dr. Anthony Fauci with the Uniformed Services University coin as guest speaker for the inaugural USU-WRNMMC joint Medicine grand rounds. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases photo.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, and a member of the White House COVID-19 Task Force, discussed the current pandemic response efforts as the guest speaker for the first combined virtual Uniformed Services University-Walter Reed National Military Medical Department of Medicine Grand Rounds held in mid-August.

“It was an absolute privilege and honor to have Dr. Fauci speak to our military medical community today,” said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jason Blaylock, chief of the Department of Medicine at WRNMMC. “As one of the world’s leading experts in infectious diseases, he has played a pivotal role in orchestrating our nation’s response to numerous infectious disease outbreaks over the past 40 years, and most recently to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Fauci discussed the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus, and its subsequent transmission throughout the world, calling it the “worst respiratory pandemic we’ve had in 102 years since the now-infamous 1918 flu.” He said that, although the numbers change daily, currently there are more than 20 million cases worldwide resulting in 749,039 deaths. Fauci said that the U.S. has suffered the worst of the insult, with more than 5 million cases and 164,000 deaths to date. Although initially the northeastern U.S. was hardest hit, the southern and western regions now have the highest number of cases.

He gave an overview of transmission, risks for infection, and personal and public health preventive measures. Fauci also discussed how to effectively and safely bring children back into the classroom.

“We know from the American Academy of Pediatrics that it’s important that when children are not in school there are deleterious consequences that are psychological … and in some parts of the country, children depend on school for breakfast and lunch. The underlying predominant factor is the safety of children, teachers, etc.” He went on to say that there are different levels of infection within the U.S. that have been categorized as green, yellow, or red.

“With green, I can say somewhat with impunity, that it’s good to send kids back. Yellow: Schools must have the capability of mitigating any risk of infection through wearing masks, separating desks, [having children go] outdoors more than indoors, opening windows where possible, having susceptible children be online, alternating days, etc. And red: Be careful. Try to get the city, county, or state down to yellow. The best way to open schools is to get closer to green. The bottom line is, we’ve got to be flexible.”

Fauci also discussed the merits of conducting temperature checks at entrances to medical facilities, saying that the benefit of doing so is “marginal.”

“We have found at the NIH that it’s much better to just question people when they come in and save the time because the temperatures are notoriously inaccurate at times. At the NIH Clinical Center and at the White House, we’ve abandoned entry by determination of temperature for the following reason: It’s the middle of the summer; we’ve had what…15 days, 90 degrees in a row. I went to the White House the other day. My temp was like 103 until I took it in the air-conditioned car and then it was 97.4. When I tried to get into another facility, my temperature was 93, which means I probably should’ve been on a respirator. So I think we’ve just got to abandon that [temperature-taking], be prudent, ask questions, and do it that way,” he said.

During the Q&A session, Blaylock asked Fauci about the likelihood of reinfection by the virus once initially infected. “It has been purely rare and anecdotal. In every anecdotal case I’ve seen, there could have been another explanation for that. So, I can say that although we have to leave open the possibility, it is likely so, so rare that right now with what we know, it’s not an issue,” he responded. “We must be humble and honest enough to realize that as we gain more data, this could change, but based on what we know today, in the middle of August, there does not appear to be any indication that that’s occurring.”

Fauci talked about the virus’s ability to mutate and the impact to vaccine candidates, saying that SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus, so “it absolutely mutates.” He said that most mutations in an RNA virus do not have any functional consequences.

“We do know – and this is important – there has been now an association of a mutation of one amino acid to another at position 614 that leads to a better binding to the ACE2 receptor, which hints that it is going to be much easier to transmit. We need to get more definitive indication of that. I think it might actually be the case, but we don’t know,” he said, urging caution. “We took the structural confirmation and looked at where the mutation was and it doesn’t seem at all to interfere with any of the antibodies that are important that are being induced by the vaccine. So it may make something a bit more transmissible but doesn’t negatively impact the vaccine issue.”

Fauci was asked about current vaccine candidates and whether he had a sense of how long any of them might confer immunity.

“The answer is no. We’ll find that out. The reason is we don’t know it right now. We’ve given the vaccine in a Phase 1 study and Phase 2 study, which was just a couple of months ago, so we know it lasts a couple of months. Whether it’s three months, six months, a year, a year and a half, we just don’t know. We’re hoping that it lasts a full cycle of a season so that it protects, and if, in fact, it wanes, we can give it a boost. And that’s what we’re hoping for. We’re hoping we get sustained immunity but if we don’t, I think we can easily use a boost to bring it back up,” Fauci responded.

Fauci said that convalescent plasma as an effective treatment for COVID-19 infection is “suggestive, not definitive.” He said that the Food and Drug Administration is carefully looking at some data from non-placebo, controlled trials that were given on an expanded access program, and that within the next two weeks he will know whether there is indication of efficacy. “If not, then we’ll have to wait for the randomized placebo-controlled trial,” he said. He went on to say that there is suggestive evidence that it is protective if administered as early as possible in the onset of infection, and that they are currently collecting convalescent plasma to determine its potential uses.

Although grand rounds are typically localized events, the talk was broadcast live on social media by NIAID and WRNMMC to maximize exposure for providers throughout the Military Health System. More than 1,100 attendees tuned in live from around the country for the nearly one-hour session organized by Blaylock and USU Department of Medicine Chair, Army Col. (Dr.) Kevin Chung. Within 24 hours, the recorded session had been viewed more than 60,000 times combined on the NIAID and WRNNMC social media sites.

"This event was a smashing success by any measure. Goes to show what can happen when we combine the organizational talents of USU, Walter Reed, and the NIH,” said Chung. “We are grateful to Dr. Fauci for accepting our invitation to speak, and to NIAID and Walter Reed for allowing the event to be broadcast widely, not only throughout the MHS but also to the public."

“He is truly one of our finest leaders, and we are incredibly grateful that he was able to provide some remarkable insight into the many challenges that our military medical treatment facilities have been facing over the past several months,” Blaylock said.

The grand rounds talk was recorded and is available for viewing on Facebook.

You also may be interested in...

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

Compassionate Caring with COVID Vax Commitment

Article Around MHS
10/6/2021
A  female doctor poses for a photo.

When pregnant patients have an appointment with Lt. Cmdr. Megan Northup at Naval Hospital Bremerton, they get more than a qualified and caring OB/GYN physician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

Retired colonel leads Fort Irwin COVID response mission

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
Army Col. Richard Hopkins, the COVID-19 response coordinator with Weed Army Community Hospital, collects paperwork from a Soldier who received the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event.

Retired Army Col. Richard Hopkins volunteered under the Army’s COVID-19 Retiree Recall Program to return to service as the COVID-19 response coordinator for Weed Army Community Hospital and Fort Irwin, California.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

ARNORTH military support to FEMA begins in Tennessee, continues in five states

Article Around MHS
9/24/2021
Prepared COVID-19 vaccine shots wait to be administered to an Airman. Members of the 134th Air Refueling Wing were eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines during Unit Training Assembly here May 2nd, 2021.

At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, approximately 20 military medical personnel deployed to Tennessee to support civilian healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in local hospitals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

COVID-19 can lead to long-term health concerns

Article Around MHS
9/23/2021
Debra Lamb, a 30-year civil service veteran at Ft. Carson, contracted the COVID-19 virus late in 2020 and experienced a harrowing ordeal before partially recovering months later.

Debra Lamb, a 30-year civil service veteran at Ft. Carson, contracted the COVID-19 virus late in 2020 and experienced a harrowing ordeal before partially recovering months later.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

6th Medical Group Delivers Mandatory Vaccines

Article Around MHS
9/21/2021
An Airman from the 6th Medical Group prepares a COVID-19 vaccine for distribution at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Airmen from the 6th Medical Group began redistributing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, on Sept. 9, 2021. This comes after the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum on Aug. 23, 2021, mandating all active duty personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

After the ventilator COVID survivor advocates for vaccine

Article Around MHS
9/15/2021
Tim Harris is sedated while on a ventilator

Tim Harris, a mobilization and planning specialist, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, is sedated while on a ventilator at Brooke Army Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, June 27, 2020.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army Medicine Europe Provides Additional COVID Vaccinations for Immune Compromised

Article Around MHS
9/13/2021
Franz Dietrich, a German local national assigned to Training Support Activity Europe, receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the 7th Army Training Command's (7ATC) Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany, May 4, 2021. The U.S. Army Health Clinics at Grafenwoehr and Vilseck conducted a "One Community" COVID-19 vaccine drive May 3-7 to provide thousands of appointments to the 7ATC community of Soldiers, spouses, Department of the Army civilians, veterans and local nationals employed by the U.S. Army. (U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)

Army medical treatment facilities in Europe are now offering an additional dose of COVID vaccine for immune compromised beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
Showing results 1 - 9 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.