Fauci Predicts First COVID-19 Vaccine by Late December for High-Risk Americans


Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said a coronavirus vaccine may be available to high-risk Americans by the end of December or early January.

Right now, four candidates are now in Phase III trials in the U.S., with a fifth candidate close behind. Pfizer and Moderna are the front runners, expecting to have enough data to file for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in late November. 

Both companies started the final stage of their clinical testing in late July with tens of thousands of participants. Pfizer and partner BioNTech had hoped to have key data from their 44,000-person trial by the end of October, but that has been pushed back by a few weeks due to not enough COVID-19 infections occurring among trial participants in order to analyze the data of vaccine versus placebo recipients. 

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel pushed back the timeline for their vaccine saying it likely would be available in January, that the company wouldn’t seek approval from the FDA until then. AstraZeneca and NovaVax are just a little further behind on their timelines. They've all been striking deals with governments across the globe to deliver their vaccines in 2021.

“The first interim look (at the front runner trial data) should be, we hope, within the next few weeks,” Fauci said in a live streamed chat with Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.  

After that, the data will go to the FDA for regulatory approval. As for who gets vaccinated first, they’re looking at high-risk healthcare workers and first responders. Older adults, especially those in crowded facilities, and people with underlying conditions that put them at higher risk will also receive priority.  

Fauci was clear that a vaccine is what is needed in an interview with JAMA: “We get to herd immunity from a vaccine. That’s how you get to herd immunity, not by getting everyone infected.”  

Any other route to herd immunity involves a cost in lives that’s simply too high.  

Even once an effective vaccine is in our hands, it will still be awhile before we get back to some version of “normal” as immunity builds across the nation and globally. Fauci predicts life will not likely get back to business as usual “until the end of 2021 at least.”  

In the meantime, Collins urged Americans to not grow weary of the preventive actions they’ve been taking since March. "I know Americans are tired of these measures. Tired of wearing masks. Tired of not being able to congregate together," Collins said. "But we've got a long road yet to go."

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