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Anthony Fauci. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Allowing people to fly maskless on planes is a “complicated issue,” in part because the U.S. doesn’t have a vaccine passport system, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said at an Axios event that airs Wednesday.

Why it matters: Fauci said that in accordance with the new CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people could “easily” fly without face masks, but the problem is determining who is vaccinated and not and the airlines "don't want to see spread."

  • He expressed hope that guidelines on flights within the U.S. could loosen within months if enough Americans get vaccinated.

What they’re saying: "It's complicated because the people who are vaccinated could easily be on airplanes without a mask because we know you're protected, whether you're indoor or outdoor," Fauci said at an Axios virtual event, airing Wednesday.

  • "The trouble is that we don't have vaccine passports, so we don't know who is vaccinated or not."
  • "I hope that we get enough people vaccinated that, at least on domestic flights, that it would be a matter of months," he said. But "the issue globally is a different story," because of surge in infections in other parts of the world.

See the full interview, as well as Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, during a virtual event on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at 12:30 p.m. today. Sign up here.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Aug 26, 2021 - World

Pfizer, BioNTech sign deal with Eurofarma to boost vaccine supply in Latin America

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Thursday a deal with Brazilian pharmaceutical company Eurofarma to manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine for distribution in Latin America.

Why it matters: Latin American countries have struggled to vaccinate their populations due to a low supply of doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. The new deal would boost local manufacturing and distribution of doses.

Aug 26, 2021 - Health

Coronavirus cases are soaring, especially in the South

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New coronavirus infections continue to rise across the U.S., perpetuating a preventable wave of suffering that's already straining hospitals and killing an average of 1,000 Americans per day.

The big picture: The biggest increases are happening primarily in a cluster of states where vaccination rates are low and safety measures like masks are spotty.