Fauci: We'll know whether a vaccine is safe, effective by early December

Fauci: We'll know whether a vaccine is safe, effective by early December
© Washington Examiner/Pool

Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Defense: White House open to reforming war powers | Army base might house migrant children | Fauci scolds military on vaccine Overnight Health Care: CDC study links masks to fewer COVID-19 deaths | Relief debate stalls in Senate | Biden faces criticism over push to vaccinate teachers Watch live: White House coronavirus response team holds briefing MORE, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, predicted in a new interview that the safety and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine would be known by early December.

Fauci made the remarks during a discussion on President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE’s claims of having a vaccine ready by the end of the year. During the second and final presidential debate, Trump said last Thursday that a vaccine would be ready “in the next few weeks.”

“I believe he said that correctly, we will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, the beginning of December," Fauci told BBC host Andrew Marr. "The question is, once you have a safe and effective vaccine, or more than one, how can you get it to the people who need it as quickly as possible?”

Fauci clarified that even if one or multiple vaccines are found to be safe and effective by that time, they will “not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody."

"You'll have to wait several months into 2021,” adding later that a vaccine would likely be widely available in the second or third quarter of next year.

He also stated that health care workers and individuals with an increased risk of complications would likely be the first to receive the vaccine. Those priority immunizations would likely begin in the first three months of 2021, he said.

Fauci also said politicians must set an example by publicly following guidelines when asked about an anti-science bias in the U.S.

“People look at what their leaders say and do and you can positively or negatively influence behavior,’ he said. “One of the things I'm concerned about in the United States is that part of the anti-science translates maybe into anti-vaccine.”

He said this sentiment could especially affect the more vulnerable groups in the U.S. such as minority populations.

“It would really be a shame if we have a safe and effective vaccine, but a substantial proportion of the people do not want to take the vaccine because they don't trust authority. That would really be unfortunate if that's the case.”