The U.S. should have a “couple of hundred million doses” of a vaccine for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, ready to go by the beginning of 2021, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.
Fauci said that he’s “cautiously optimistic” that one of the several ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials will be a success and can be mass-produced for Americans to get next year, he said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association, CNN reported.
The infectious disease expert said that he expects that one of the four or five vaccine trials in the works will be able to produce millions of doses of a vaccine by the end of this year, and the “couple of hundred million doses” will follow early next year.
One of the most promising trials is run by biotech company Modena, which is expected to begin their final stage of volunteer human trials in July. This phase will include around 30,000 people from age 18 up to the elderly and those with underlying conditions.
"The real business end of this all will be the Phase 3 that starts in the first week of July, hopefully," Fauci said. "We want to get as many datapoints as we can … It’s going to be the entire spectrum.”
He is also encouraged by the early results from another vaccine trial run by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that with the multiple candidates that we have with different platforms, that we're going to have a vaccine that shows a degree of efficacy that would make it deployable," he said.
If any vaccine trial is looking promising towards the end of this year, they will begin to manufacture millions of doses before they know for sure that it works, just to have them ready to go if they do.
"It isn't as if we're going to make the vaccine, show it's effective and then have to wait a year to rev up to millions and millions and millions of doses," he said. "That's going to be done as we're testing the vaccine."
Fauci added that while some people have severe cases of COVID-19, most are able to recover from the virus, which is an encouraging sign that a vaccine will work.
"If the body is capable of making an immune response to clear the virus of natural infection, that's a pretty good proof of concept to say that you're going to make an immune response in response to a vaccine," he said.
Though he cautioned that there is "never a guarantee, ever, that you're going to get an effective vaccine." Fauci has previously said that vaccines typically take at least 12 to 18 months to develop, but the COVID-19 vaccine trials have been sped up.
Along with working on a vaccine, there is a “major push” to find an effective treatment for those who have COVID-19.
“That is a very, very high priority,” Fauci said.
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