A “safe and effective” coronavirus vaccine may be widely available by April, a top infectious disease expert said on Wednesday.
“That would be predicated on the fact that all of the vaccines that are in clinical trials have been proven to be safe and effective,” Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS Evening News.
Fauci spoke about several coronavirus-related topics in the 30-minute interview, including the national surge in cases, vaccine progress and holiday gatherings.
Based on the current clinical trial timelines, researchers will likely know by November or December whether a safe vaccine candidate is ready, he said. A few million doses may be available by then, and a larger number of doses would be available by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
If all six companies that have received federal funding can produce a safe and effective vaccine, about 700 million doses could be ready in the spring, Fauci said, though not all of the companies may be ready by then.
“There will be hundreds of millions of doses available, but available to use in a person would mean that the vaccine would have to have been proven to be safe and effective,” he said.
The recent pause by Johnson & Johnson to investigate an unexplained illness should reassure people who are worried about safety, Fauci added.
“When those things occur, we jump all over that,” he said. “We want to find out what the reason is and if it’s associated with the vaccine.”
Until a vaccine is widely available, Fauci warned against large gatherings and indoor events. Thanksgiving gatherings and other holiday celebrations could lead to a surge in coronavirus cases, particularly if family members and friends travel from other locations and need to travel through airports. He encouraged people to wear face masks, use good ventilation and “try and keep windows open.”
“Don’t be afraid to wear a mask in your house if you’re not certain that the persons in the house are negative,” he said.
More virus transmission is happening in households, he added, which people should keep in mind this fall and winter.
“Don’t assume because you’re in your own home with your own family that you’re not going to spread infection,” he said. “You may feel perfectly well, and when you were outside speaking with someone…they transmitted the virus to you, and then you’re in danger of transmitting it to your family.”
CBS News, “Dr. Fauci on COVID surge, Trump’s recovery, holiday travel and more.”
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