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“Now very few of these comorbidities have racial determinants,” said Fauci. “Almost all of them refer to the social determinants of health stemming from the adverse conditions some black people find themselves in from birth in terms of the availability of adequate nutrition, access to health care and the undeniable effects of racism in our society . “
Fauci said correcting societal mistakes will take decades, and he urged graduates to be part of the solution.
Fauci said once society returns to “some form of normalcy,” people should remember that infectious diseases have disproportionately hospitalized and killed people of skin color.
Fauci was awarded the President’s Medal of Emory University on Sunday. Past 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 condemned the destruction of the division.
“Social division is counterproductive in a pandemic,” said Fauci. “We must not contradict each other because the virus is the enemy, not each other.”
He commended the graduates for dealing with the profound disruption of the pandemic.
“Humanity has not faced a public health crisis of this magnitude since the 1918 influenza pandemic,” he said. “Each of you deserves tremendous respect for your extraordinary adaptability, resilience and commitment to learning, completing your degree and graduation despite immense difficulties and uncertainties.”