Dr. Fauci Says This Is Likely When a COVID Vaccine Will Be Approved
If the nation's top medical expert is right, a coronavirus vaccine could be closer than you think.
Even with all the questions that have come up over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, one still seems to be at the top of everyone's minds: When will life be able to go back to normal? Most experts seem to agree that the development and release of a safe, effective vaccine will go a long way toward dramatically slowing the spread of the virus. And while the timeline on exactly when we can expect to see one has shifted over time, Anthony Fauci, MD, thinks we'll likely have a COVID vaccine approved by the end of the year, saying November or December is "a safe bet."
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director said that three vaccines are ready to enter the testing phase due to the White House's "Operation Light Speed," which would ultimately be able to deliver 300 million doses by the beginning of the new year, The Times of London reported. Fauci optimistically stated that "it is conceivable that we would get an answer before that."
But the top medical official changed tones when discussing the finished product. "I would not be satisfied until a vaccine was proven to be safe and effective before it was actually approved for general use," he told the newspaper.
Experts have maintained that the three-phase vaccine approval process is vital for developing an inoculation that is both safe and effective. While vaccines from Russia and China have been touted as successes by their home countries and slated for production, neither have received outside verification or passed the third phase of trials, which involves testing on thousands of people versus a smaller set of patients. A successful vaccine must protect at least half of all recipients to be considered effective, according to The New York Times.
Some scientists worry that the rush to develop and release a vaccine could actually set the world back in the fight against the virus. In an article published in the medical journal The Lancet on Aug. 27, the World Health Organization's Solidarity Vaccines Trial Expert Group urged caution to follow the correct development protocol. "There is a danger that political and economic pressures for rapid introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine could lead to widespread deployment of a vaccine that is in reality only weakly effective," they warned. "Deployment of a weakly effective vaccine could actually worsen the COVID-19 pandemic if authorities wrongly assume it causes a substantial reduction in risk, or if vaccinated individuals wrongly believe they are immune, hence reducing implementation of, or compliance with, other COVID-19 control measures."
In light of such concerns, some U.S. agencies have stepped forward to reassure the public. On Aug. 31, Stephen Hahn, MD, director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told CBS News that any vaccine approval would be made "on the basis of science and data. We will not make that decision on the basis of politics. That's a promise." And for more on where coronavirus is spiking, These 4 States Should Lock Down Immediately, Harvard Researchers Say.