Golden State Warriors player Steph Curry and Dr. Anthony Fauci held a live Instagram chat on Thursday, during which the NBA star asked the country’s top infectious disease official a series of questions about the coronavirus pandemic.
Their conversation, which had around 50,000 viewers, gave Fauci a chance to clear up some misconceptions about the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the pathogen.
“How is COVID-19 different from the flu in terms of how it interacts with the body and how it spreads?” Curry asked.
“The reason it’s different is it’s very, very, much more transmissible than the flu, and more importantly, it’s significantly more serious,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The mortality rate from the seasonal flu is 0.1%, he said, while the rate for COVID-19 is about 1%, “which means it’s about 10 times more serious than the typical influenza.”
Fauci, who regularly speaks during President Donald Trump’s coronavirus press briefings, has repeatedly found himself having to correct dangerously misleading things Trump says, like his habit of comparing the two diseases and depicting the flu as deadlier.
“We’ve never closed down the country for the flu,” Trump said during a Fox News appearance Tuesday. “So you say to yourself, ‘What is this all about?’”
Thursday’s livestream included a cameo from former President Barack Obama, who commented on the video: “Listen to the science. Do your part and take care of each other.”
Fauci also answered Curry’s questions about when national social distancing guidelines might end, something Trump has pushed for as early as Easter — which is April 12 — despite warnings from public health experts that the policies may need to be in place for much longer.
It’s not an “all or none process,” Fauci responded, though he did not suggest when they might end. He added, “Even if you lessen those restrictions, everyone should still practice some degree of physical distancing and avoid big crowds. You can do that and still get back to somewhat of a normal life.”