Will Smith and Dr. Anthony Fauci Discuss COVID-19's Prevalence in the Black Community

Illustration for article titled Will Smith and Dr. Anthony Fauci Discuss COVID-19s Prevalence in the Black Community
Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP (Getty Images), Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and truly one of America’s last hopes, was the latest guest on Will Smith’s Snapchat series Will From Home, where he informed viewers about COVID-19 facts, and more specifically, its devastating impact on the black community. The episode hit the social media app on Tuesday.

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“It’s really terrible, because it’s just one of the failings of our society, that African Americans have a disproportionate prevalence in incidents of the very comorbid conditions that put you at a high risk,” Dr. Fauci explained of the staggering number of COVID-19 deaths amongst black Americans. The “comorbid conditions” include hypertension, diabetes and obesity.

“If you get infected, you’re going to have a poor outcome,” Fauci continued, adding that the pandemic is “a bright shining light on what disparities of health mean.” He also described the four main types of coronaviruses humans can get, from the common cold to what is happening now.

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“It has the characteristics of very efficiently transmitting from human to human,” he explains of this particular outbreak.

Many of the questions Dr. Fauci answered during his appearance on the show were asked by young people. When one young girl asked if the shelter-in-place and social distancing precautions were going to happen for the rest of our lives, Dr. Fauci assured her this won’t last forever.

“When we have a vaccine, and we have enough baseline immunity, this is something you are not going to worry about for the rest of your life,” Fauci explained. “It’s tough now, and it may be tough for another year, but this is something that will go away, I promise you.”

In an adorable moment, Dr. Fauci also assured a seven-year-old viewer that the Tooth Fairy will not catch the illness. (“So when your tooth [falls] out, you stick it under the pillow, and I’ll guarantee you that that Tooth Fairy is not going to get infected and is not going to get sick”).

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Head to Snapchat for the full Q&A.

Pronounced "Jay-nuh."

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DISCUSSION

As a complete aside (it’s probable just as applicable to Jerome Adams, who fits my preference), but it’s kind of odd that America tends to give leadership of its health agencies to people with training and careers as physicians and clinicians rather than public health professionals/degrees (DPH/DrPH’s, for example), particularly what’s variously called “management and policy,” “health services administration,” “management,” or “leadership and management” and generally describes the training and career track for hospital and health org logisticians/admins, as well as epidemiology/biostatisics, policy, or global health. You’d think someone in Fauci’s position would have been expected to have an epidemiology background, for example, but is actually an immunologist.

The Surgeon General position is probably the most blatant example, with the most prominent medical position in the country traditionally going to scalpel jockeys, but Adams is actually an MD/MPH, although weirdly not through a designated MD/MPH programs (which meant his process of getting the two degrees was relatively inefficient and onerous). This seems to have played a part in Elders’ downfall, as she made a number of fairly extraordinary epidemiological claims that were based solely on philosophy and “personal experience” that were also on controversial topics, meaning that she had no legs to stand on when people went after her.