The nation’s top infectious disease expert says that life may return to normal in 2021, as long as there is a coronavirus vaccine.
Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s David Axelrod that he’s very hopeful about having million of doses of an inoculation by early next year.
‘The timetable you suggested of getting into 2021, well into the year, then I can think with a successful vaccine – if we could vaccinate the overwhelming majority of the population – we could start talking about real normality again,’ Fauci said on Thursday.
‘But it is going to be a gradual process.’
His comments come as the US surpassed four million cases, more than the total of infections in the countries with the second- and third-most cases combined.
Fauci said he was promised by vaccine companies ‘they would have doses to the tunes of tens of millions early in the year, and up to hundreds of millions as we get well into 2021.’
Some companies have even allegedly told Fauci that they could produce as many as one billion doses.
Several researchers from around the world in the midst of clinical trials say they have found success testing immunizations.
On Monday, results of a Phase I/II trial for a vaccine being co-developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca were published in The Lancet.
Researchers said their jab was safe and induced an immune response, but that the vaccine now needs to be tested in a larger group.
Meanwhile, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE are entering large-scale human trials this summer for their coronavirus vaccine and said they plan to see Food and Drug Administration approval by the end of the year.
Early results found volunteers given either a low or a medium dose had immune responses in the range expected to be protective when compared to COVID-19 survivors.
Additionally, Moderna’s 30,000-strong trial, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is set to begin on Monday.
Participants who received two doses of the vaccine had high antibody levels, more than those in people who had recovered from COVID-19, according to results published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The latter two fall under President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, under which multiple COVID-19 vaccines are being developed simultaneously.
The program aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021.
‘I have never seen anything come together this way, as we have tried to do and are now doing, for the development of vaccines,’ NIH head Dr Francis Collins told CBS News.
‘And the government, by providing additional resources, has also made it possible now to plan manufacturing of vaccine doses even before you know if the vaccine is going to work.’
During Fauci’s interview on CNN, he also insisted he has a ‘good relationship’ with Trump, despite the president’s administration bashing the doctor in the press.
‘I am trying my best to completely stay out of politics. But, when you’re in a situation that’s politically charged, it’s kind of difficult to completely not be impacted by it,’ he said.
‘The one thing that’s interesting that I think people don’t appreciate is that I do have a very good relationship with the President, in the sense of no animosity at all. In fact, it’s quite a good relationship.