The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
From the New York Times (Donald G. McNeil Jr.) [UPDATE: link updated; the original one stopped working for some reason]:
At what point does a country achieve herd immunity? What portion of the population must acquire resistance to the coronavirus, either through infection or vaccination, for the disease to fade away …?
In the pandemic's early days, Dr. Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate that most experts did. About a month ago, he began saying "70, 75 percent" in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC News, he said "75, 80, 85 percent" and "75 to 80-plus percent."
In a telephone interview the next day, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks….. [H]e believes that it may take close to 90 percent immunity to bring the virus to a halt ….
Dr. Fauci said that weeks ago, he had hesitated to publicly raise his estimate because many Americans seemed unsure about vaccines …. Now that some polls are showing that many more Americans are ready, even eager, for vaccines, he said he felt he could deliver the tough message that the return to normal might take longer than anticipated.
"When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent," Dr. Fauci said. "Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, 'I can nudge this up a bit,' so I went to 80, 85."
Errors happen; scientists' understanding changes; but Dr. Fauci's statements here aren't just about changed medical understanding, right?
Thanks to Randy Barnett for pointing this out, in a post on a discussion list that I'm on.