“Now very few of these comorbidities have racial determinants,” Fauci said. “Almost all of them are linked to the social determinants of health that can be traced back to the disadvantageous conditions some people of color find themselves in from birth in terms of the availability of adequate food, access to health care and the effects undeniable racism in our society. ”
Fauci said correcting societal wrongs will take a decades-long commitment, and he urged graduates to be part of the solution.
Fauci said that once society returns to “some form of normalcy,” people shouldn’t forget that infectious diseases have disproportionately hospitalized and killed people of color.
Fauci received the President’s Medal from Emory University on Sunday. Previous recipients include former President Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama and the late US Representative John Lewis, a civil rights icon. By accepting the award, Fauci denounced the destruction of the division.
“Social division is counterproductive in a pandemic,” Fauci said. “We must not disagree with each other because the virus is the enemy, not each other.”
He praised the graduates for dealing with the profound disruption of the pandemic.
“It is not since the 1918 influenza pandemic that mankind has faced a public health crisis of this magnitude,” he said. “Each of you deserves immense respect for your extraordinary adaptability, resilience, and dedication to learning, completing your education, and graduating despite immense challenges and uncertainties.”