Story at a glance
- The official vaccine development began on Jan. 14, and the drug is now in phase one of clinical trials.
- Fauci predicts that phases two and three of the trial will occur in the late spring and early summer.
- However, there's no guarantee the vaccine will be effective yet.
Anthony Fauci of the White House's coronavirus task force testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Tuesday outlining the national steps needed for the U.S. to safely open and avoid a second wave of the coronavirus.
Despite the bleak news that the actual death toll in the U.S. could very well be higher than the current official count of more than 80,000, Fauci offered a relatively positive outlook regarding the progress of a vaccine.
“The NIH [National Institute of Health] has been collaborating with a number of pharmaceutical companies at various stages of development,” he told the senators.
The official vaccine development began on Jan. 14, and, 62 days later, the drug is now in phase one of clinical trials. Fauci predicts that phases two and three will occur in the late spring and early summer.
A total of eight potential vaccines have begun human trials. Fauci said that ideally, there will be more than one vaccine.
He noted, however, that "there’s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective."
Vaccine development is a lengthy process, and will take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to have a usable vaccine, despite government fast tracks.
“You can have everything you think that’s in place and you don’t induce the kind of immune response that turns out to be protective and durably protective,” Fauci explained. “So one of the big unknowns is, will it be effective? Given the way the body responds to viruses of this type, I’m cautiously optimistic that we will with one of the candidates get an efficacy signal.”
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Meanwhile, as the country waits for a vaccine, Fauci warned of “really serious” consequences if states reopen too soon.
“Even under the best of circumstances, when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases appear. It's the ability and the capability of responding to those cases with good identification, isolation and contact tracing will determine whether you can continue to go forward, as you try to reopen America.”
News about coronavirus vaccine development comes as biotechnology company Moderna received a fast-track designation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its potential coronavirus vaccine.
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