He wanted it to be "a symbol to the rest of the country." And so, Anthony Fauci sat down at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., on Tuesday and let a health care professional stick a needle in his arm on live TV. "I consider it an honor to be part of this process," said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who received his first of two eventual doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, per BuzzFeed. It was a birthday present of sorts. Fauci—who received a dose alongside NIH Director Francis Collins, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and several frontline health care workers—will turn 80 on Christmas Eve.
He said he felt "extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine" and encouraged "everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated [to do so] so we can have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic," per BuzzFeed. Appearing on Good Morning America Tuesday, Fauci also spoke of a new coronavirus variant spreading in the UK that appears to be even more infectious, saying we should assume it's already in the US. "I wouldn't be surprised if the requirement of testing [travelers who arrive in the US] is something that is being actively considered right now," Fauci said, per CNN. Also on Tuesday, the UK recorded its highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 36,804. (Read more Anthony Fauci stories.)