This Is How Long a Coronavirus Vaccine Will Make You Immune

Dr. Fauci worries a COVID-19 vaccine won't provide "a long duration of immunity."

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The United States is expected to have a 100 million doses of the first COVID-19 vaccine candidate ready by the beginning of 2021, Anthony Fauci, MD, said on June 2 during a live question and answer session with the Journal of the American Medical Association. While this is encouraging news regarding the progress toward an effective coronavirus vaccine, there are still a number of unknowns—a major one being the length of immunity a potential vaccine would provide recipients.

In the same Q&A, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), did not shy away from expressing his concern regarding the "durability" of a vaccine, saying "it likely isn't going to be a long duration of immunity." He attributes his worry to how vaccines for other types of coronavirus have performed in the past.

"When you look at the history of coronaviruses, the common coronaviruses that cause the common cold, the reports in the literature are that the durability of immunity that's protective ranges from three to six months to almost always less than a year," Fauci said. "That's not a lot of durability and protection."

And CNN reports that, according to Fauci, when people develop antibodies to fight common colds caused by other strains of coronavirus, that protection typically only lasts about a year, meaning that people would have to be vaccinated annually, as is necessary with the flu.

As far as whether or not the vaccine will be effective, the fact that the majority of people are able to recover from COVID-19 has Fauci "cautiously optimistic."

"[This] tells us, that 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," he said. "Having said that, there is never a guarantee."

The first vaccine candidate is expected to go into Phase III—the final stages of trial in volunteers—by mid-summer and will be tested in individuals between the ages of 18 and 55, as well elderly volunteers with underlying health conditions. And for more on the COVID-19 vaccine, This Is Who Could Be Last to Get the Coronavirus Vaccine, Doctors Say.

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