'I don't have an answer for you': Dr Fauci shocks Chris Cuomo on why vaccine passports aren't mandatory

Fauci defends federal government's move to not make vaccine passports mandatory, says 'it's a complex reason'

                            'I don't have an answer for you': Dr Fauci shocks Chris Cuomo on why vaccine passports aren't mandatory
Dr Anthony Fauci with an insert of Nancy Pelosi's vaccine card (Getty Images)

Should vaccine passports be made mandatory? That was the topic of discussion between Dr Anthony Fauci and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on Wednesday, May 19. As America slowly returns to normalcy, many businesses and venues have made it mandatory to show proof of vaccination, but so far the federal government hasn't passed a bill requiring it to be applied nationwide. 

Apart from running into a brick wall of opposition by the Republicans, it seems like mandating vaccine passports isn't something President Joe Biden is eager to do. Now, Dr Fauci has confirmed to Cuomo that is indeed the case. "What the administration is saying is that they're not going to mandate a passport for vaccines centrally," he said. 


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Masks and now vaccines have been a complex issue with regulations changing state-to-state, and little guidance from the federal government. So far, the only exception is public transit. The CDC issued guidance making it mandatory for masks to be worn by all travelers. Will the administration do something similar for vaccines? From Fauci's words, it seems unlikely. 

Dr Anthony Fauci gives the thumbs up after receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland (Getty Images)

Fauci says mandate would 'discriminate'

"I don't have the answer... It's a complex reason. And one of them is that if you, in fact, to require a passport, you're going to be discriminating against people and putting people at a disadvantage of essentially forcing them in many respects to get vaccinated," Fauci said. But Cuomo pressed him further, asking him why the government wouldn't roll out a federal vaccine passport mandate. To that, Fauci replied, "Chris, I don't have the answer for you, Chris. I don't have the answer for you. You could make a good argument for that, Chris, I'm not arguing with you. But the policy is — they don't want to do it centrally," he said, leaving Cuomo in shock.

"They don't want to have a central dictate that you have to have a passport because they don't want to put people in compromised position, I hear your argument, you're saying well, then get vaccinated, period," Fauci added. Instead of mandating vaccines or passports, the government is taking another approach — hoping to push unvaccinated people to get their shot by giving vaccinated people more freedoms.

The latest CDC guidance allows fully vaccinated people (who have received both their shots) to go about without a mask in most settings. But, without a vaccine passport or proof of vaccination, it will be a challenge for cities, businesses and venues to identify unvaccinated people, a reality Cuomo acknowledged. "If you're vaccinated you don't have to wear a mask," he said. "If you're not vaccinated, nothing has changed, but you will cheat."

Susan Maxwell-Trumble holds up a vaccination card at South Shore University Hospital after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on March 3, 2021, in Bay Shore, New York (Getty Images)

Administration adamant it won't play a role

Despite the public health threat unvaccinated people pose, it seems like the Biden administration is clear it won't make passports mandatory. On the campaign trail in December, Biden told reporters, "I wouldn't demand it to be mandatory, but I would do everything in my power just like I don't think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide." On May 17, Jen Psaki told reporters, "(the CDC guidance) has not changed our view that the federal government will not be playing that role." 

Earlier in April, Psaki said, "The government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential." Without federal guidance, states and cities have mostly set their own rules, varying greatly, leaving millions of Americans confused. To add fuel to the fire, some businesses have kept mask mandates in place, while others have lifted them entirely.