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

President BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE’s top medical adviser, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOfficials seek to reassure public over omicron fears The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Omicron tests vaccines; Bob Dole dies at 98 Murthy says travel restrictions are 'temporary measures' 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.