Fauci says it's a 'false narrative' to think COVID-19 vaccine not needed if Merck drug approved

President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE’s top medical adviser, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciMurthy says travel restrictions are 'temporary measures' Fauci calls Ron Johnson's AIDS comment 'preposterous': 'I don't have any clue of what he's talking about' Fauci: US 'hopefully' will lift African countries travel ban in 'reasonable period of time' MORE, said on Sunday that it is a “false narrative” to think that the COVID-19 vaccine would not be needed if an antiviral COVID-19 treatment from Merck is federally approved.

“This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl asked Fauci on ABC if the approval of the antiviral treatment could make taking the COVID-19 vaccine unnecessary.

“Oh, absolutely not. That's such a false narrative that someone says, ‘Well now you have a drug.’ Remember, the easiest way to stay out of the hospital, and not die, is don't get infected,” Fauci told Karl. 

“I mean this idea about ‘We have a drug, don't get vaccinated,’ just doesn't make any sense,” Fauci added.

Fauci’s comments come as the United States surpassed the grim milestone of 700,000 COVID-19 deaths.

He also said that many of those deaths could have been avoidable had they taken the COVID-19 vaccine, explaining “if you look at the people who get hospitalized, and the people who die, it is overwhelmingly weighted towards the people who are unvaccinated.”

Merck said last week that its antiviral COVID-19 treatment, molnupiravir, was effective against COVID-19. The pharmaceutical giant, which is developing the treatment with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, said that in phase three trials, only 7.3 percent of those who received the medication were hospitalized for COVID-19 within 29 days while 14.1 percent of those who received the placebo either ended up in the hospital or died.

Merck also said that none of the people who received molnupiravir died during the trial, but eight people who received the placebo did.

Merck said that it would be applying for emergency authorization of the drug. 

--Updated on Oct. 6 at 1:29 p.m.