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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Anthony Fauci. Photo: Mandel Ngan-AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci told me for an Axios virtual event airing later today that many Americans are "misinterpreting" the CDC's new mask guidance, which lets vaccinated individuals forego masks indoors.

What he's saying: "I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It's not," Fauci told me. "It's an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors."

  • "It's not their fault," Fauci added. "People either read them quickly, or listen and hear half of it. They are feeling that we're saying: 'You don't need the mask anymore.' That's not what the CDC said. They said: If you are vaccinated, you can feel safe — that you will not get infected either outdoors or indoors. It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks."

The big picture: The guidance was met with celebration and consternation. Some public-health experts worry that confusion could endanger unvaccinated people, Axios health care editor Tina Reed writes.

  • Fauci said Americans will likely need a COVID vaccine booster: "I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so, after getting the primary [shot], because the durability of protection against coronaviruses is generally not lifelong."
  • He also said we should expect to keep wearing masks on airplanes for some time — but hopefully months, not years.

💻 At 12:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, hear more of my conversation with Dr. Fauci, plus Caitlin Owens talks with Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla.

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Go deeper

Aug 25, 2021 - Health

J&J says its COVID booster significantly increases antibodies

Vials and syringes of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine are displayed. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

A booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine offers a significant increase in antibodies, the company announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: People who received a booster shot six to eight months after their first J&J dose saw "a rapid and robust increase in spike-binding antibodies, nine-fold higher than 28 days after the primary single-dose vaccination," J&J said.

Delta Air Lines to add monthly health insurance charge for unvaccinated workers

Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Delta Air Lines will impose a monthly $200 surcharge on unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company's health care plan, CEO Ed Bastian announced in a memo Wednesday.

Why it matters: The move makes Delta the first major U.S. company to impose a monetary penalty on workers who choose to remain unvaccinated, according to Bloomberg.

Aug 25, 2021 - Health

WHO: COVID-19 booster shot data is "not conclusive"

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Wednesday during a media briefing that the data on the need for or benefits of a coronavirus booster shot is inconclusive.

The big picture: The agency said that besides booster evidence being inconclusive, it's also a "moral and ethical" issue because not every country in the world has access to vaccines.