Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, says a vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic “could take some time,” although it may come later this year at best.
The warning that it may take time came in the written testimony of the Fauci Congress on Tuesday. It gave way to more optimistic oral comments, and Fauci said he was “cautiously optimistic,” a vaccine will be ready by “the end of this calendar year and the beginning of 2021.”
The infectious disease expert said in his prepared testimony that a COVID-19 vaccine “will be essential” to end the pandemic, but it is not imminent. Instead, Fauci said, he urges the public to get a flu shot to “help conserve scarce medical resources” later this year.
“While it is unclear how long the pandemic will last, COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time,” he warned.
Fauci is the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In his testimony prepared for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he describes progress in the U.S.-backed vaccine efforts.
Speaking to panel members on Tuesday, Fauci said he is “cautiously optimistic” that vaccine distribution may begin “later this calendar year and early 2021.”
Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers in person testimony that “there is never a guarantee” that a vaccine can be developed, but that “I am cautiously optimistic that we will succeed.” . “
Fauci said it was important to resist rushing.
“I would be very disappointed if we reached a conclusion before knowing that a vaccine was truly safe and truly effective because I would not want the perpetual ambiguity of not knowing if it is really safe and effective,” he said. “That is the reason why we are doing several randomized placebo trials.”
Still, Fauci said a vaccine could be available to the public “from one year to 18 months” since the investigation began in January 2020, a projection it has given for some time.
In Fauci’s written comments, he said: “The rigorous clinical tests required to establish the safety and efficacy of the vaccine mean that it could take some time for a SARS-CoV-2 licensed vaccine to become available to the general public.”
Fauci also sharpened his description of progress in the U.S.-backed vaccine efforts.
The Moderna company is working with health officials “to launch a Phase 3 clinical trial as early as July 2020, pending positive results from this Phase 2 trial,” Fauci said in written testimony.
Orally, Fauci said of the vaccination efforts, “one of them will enter the phase three study in July.”
The government is also working “to quickly disseminate a vaccine to the American people when one becomes available,” he said.
Since March, the virus has sickened more than 2.3 million Americans and killed about 120,000.