Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest kicked off the week by welcoming first lady Dr. Jill Biden and chief medical advisor to the president and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci.
In the exclusive interview on "Live with Kelly and Ryan," Biden and Dr. Fauci sat down with the hosts to discuss the latest efforts to combat COVID-19, share an update on the progress that the country has made against the pandemic, and talk about the widening scope of vaccination efforts in the U.S.
Infection rates have dropped to the lowest levels since testing began in most parts of the country, as areas focus efforts on reopening safely -- and getting people vaccinated.
"It's really good news," Dr. Fauci said. "We have about 50% of the adult population already vaccinated. We have a bit more than 60% of the adult population having at least one dose, so we're really going in the right direction. We want to, and we're going to hit 70% of the population, the adult population, by the Fourth of July. We have to keep going, though, guys, we can't prematurely declare victory."
The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in patients ages 12 and up, with Moderna expected to receive such authorization soon.
"It's going to be age de-escalation," Dr. Fauci said. "We're going to start with the 12 to the 9, and then the 9 to the 6, and the 6 to the 2."
He said that by the end of the year, he expects people of all ages to be eligible, though it's unclear if a third shot booster will be necessary.
"It looks like we will ultimately need one because the immunity from this is likely not going to be infinite," he said. "But we don't know when that is."
He said studies are underway to measure the length of immunity, and that guidance will be updated as information becomes available.
As for vaccine hesitancy, they discussed the health outcomes for younger people, who will likely not have as severe a reaction to catching COVID-19. But they urged those people not to become spreaders of the illness.
"It's based on science," Biden said. "So if you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for your best friend who might have diabetes. Do it for your grandmom who might be compromised. You have to do it for someone else, your neighbors."
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Still, they remain hopeful about the direction in which the country is trending, and Dr. Fauci said July 4 is a key target date for vaccinations.
"If we keep going the way we're going now, we're going to start seeing a progression towards normality," he said. "As we get into the summer, it's going to get better and better. But I really want to say again, it's so important as you see the beautiful weather and a number of people get vaccinated, don't stop."
They urged against complacency and said the fight will continue.
"We're going to keep working to the finish line," Biden said. "Until we get to that finish line."
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