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President Trump passes Dr. Anthony Fauci after a coronavirus task force briefing on March 26. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Dr. Anthony Fauci has long cited 60% to 70% as the level of COVID infection/vaccination the country would need to achieve herd immunity — for the disease to fade and life to return to normal, writes the New York Times' Donald G. McNeil Jr.

But, but, but: "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,'" McNeil writes.

What's new: "In a telephone interview," McNeil continues, "Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goalposts."

  • "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."

Fauci's confession:

"When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent ... 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. We need to have some humility here .... We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I'm not going to say 90 percent."

Go deeper: Keep reading McNeil's "How Much Herd Immunity Is Enough?" (subscription.)

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Go deeper

Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

Biden signs executive orders on Jan. 21. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

"It's gonna get worse before it gets better": President Biden expects 100,000 Americans to die from COVID-19 during his first six weeks in office.

The big picture: Biden said he's putting America on a wartime footing against the virus, signing 10 executive orders today alone.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
19 hours ago - Health

The most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information

Data: KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Hispanic, Black and lower-income Americans are more likely than white and higher-income Americans to say they don't have enough information about when or where they'll be able to get a coronavirus vaccine, according to new KFF polling.

Why it matters: This further suggests that vaccinating the most vulnerable Americans will be an uphill battle.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
18 hours ago - Sports

2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

10 months ago, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. Now, less than six months ahead of their new start date, the dreaded word is being murmured: "canceled."

Driving the news: The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be called off, The Times reports (subscription), citing an unnamed senior government source.