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NIH director makes plea to evangelical Christians

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, says disinformation has made a lot of Christians "confused or fearful" about the Covid-19 vaccine.

Posted: Oct 10, 2021 1:27 PM


The big picture for Covid-19 in the US is looking a little brighter as new infections and hospitalizations decline.

"That's the good news. And hopefully it's going to continue to go in that trajectory downward," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"But we just have to be careful we don't prematurely declare victory in many respects. We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated that have not yet gotten vaccinated," Fauci said Sunday.

"If you look at the history of the surges and the diminutions in the cases over a period of time, they can bounce back."

In 45 states, the rates of new Covid-19 cases either declined or stayed relatively steady this past week compared to the previous week, according to data Saturday from Johns Hopkins University.

Five states -- Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania -- had at least 10% more new cases this past week compared to the previous week.

In Michigan, an emergency room physician said his hospital is still overwhelmed with patients.

"I had just worked a couple of shifts in a row where I had six, seven people sitting in the emergency department, waiting for beds at other hospitals that didn't exist," Dr. Rob Davidson said Saturday.

He said some ambulances "were six, seven hours away from being able to bring them to those places."

About 52% of Michigan residents have been fully vaccinated -- lower than the national average of 56.4%, according to data Saturday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

'Still way too high'

New Covid-19 cases are going "in the right direction -- we have less than 100,000 cases a day," Fauci said Sunday.

But the US has about 95,000 new infections reported daily, which is "still way too high," he said.

"I would like to see it well below 10,000 and even much lower than that," Fauci said. "But when you're at 95,000, that's still a situation where you have a high degree of dynamic circulation of virus."

And while daily Covid-19 deaths have declined in recent weeks, an average of 1,400 Americans are dying from Covid-19 every day, according to data this past week from Johns Hopkins University.

Death isn't the only terrible outcome with Covid-19

It's important for people to understand "not dying from Covid is a great thing, but that isn't the only metric we should be using," Davidson said.

He said at his hospital, some Covid-19 patients have been on a ventilator for more than a month, and some have endured invasive procedures to stay alive.

Even if they recover physically, some Covid-19 survivors end up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, due to time spent in the ICU, Davidson said.

A study published in February found 30% of Covid-19 survivors experienced PTSD, which is a psychological illness that usually occurs after someone has a life-threatening experience.

Then there is long Covid -- when symptoms can last months after infection.

A large study published last month showed more than one-third of Covid-19 patients suffered symptoms three to six months after getting infected. Some had multiple, long-lasting complications.

Breathing problems, abdominal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression were among the most common issues reported.

Accompanying data showed as many as 46% of children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 22 had experienced at least one symptom in the six months after recovering.

'Hit the reset button,' top health official and evangelical Christian says

A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed White evangelical Protestants were among the least likely adults to get vaccinated.

The director of the National Institutes of Health -- who identifies as an evangelical Christian -- said it is time for that to change.

"Christians, of all people, are supposed to be particularly worried about their neighbors," Dr. Francis Collins told CNN on Saturday.

He said those who are unvaccinated are more likely to get infected and spread the coronavirus to others.

But for some reason, many evangelical Christians "have had a lot of trouble, in many instances, rolling up their sleeves," Collins said.

"Much of it is this disinformation that is so widely spread on the internet, and which has, I think, caused a lot of people to be confused or fearful about what the vaccinations might do to them," Collins said.

"And that is truly heartbreaking when we see, still, more than a thousand people losing their lives to this disease (daily), almost all of them unvaccinated, and therefore didn't have to happen," he said.

"If you are a Christian, or if you're anybody who has not yet gotten vaccinated, hit the reset button on whatever information you have that's causing you to be doubtful or hesitant or fearful, and look at the evidence."

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