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Fauci: Hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses may be ready by January

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci urges Americans to conduct 'risk-benefit assessment' before holiday travel Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Fauci: 'We're in a very difficult situation at all levels' but 'help is on the way' MORE said Thursday that it is possible that hundreds of millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine could be ready by January as the Trump administration seeks to speed vaccine development.

Asked by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie whether it is “in the realm of possibility” for hundreds of millions of vaccine doses to be ready by January, as the administration’s new Operation Warp Speed envisions, Fauci said, “I do.”

“We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it's safe and it's effective,” he added. “I think that is doable if things fall in the right place.”

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Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, noted that a major step in meeting that timeline is to start manufacturing a potential vaccine even before the trial results showing whether it works are completed.

Meeting the January timeline, of course, depends on whether the results of trials end up showing that the vaccine works.

“We're going to start ramping up production with the companies involved and you do that at risk, in other words you don't wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing, you at risk, proactively, start making it, assuming it's going to work,” he said. “And if it does, then you can scale up and hopefully get to that timeline.”

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Multiple companies and researchers are working on possible vaccine projects. Teams at Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Oxford University, for example, have already started preparing for producing millions of doses.

The New York Times reported this week that the Oxford team appears to be farthest along and has had some early promising signs. That vaccine could have its first few million doses available by September, under the best circumstances.

Fauci noted on Thursday that a January timeline is not that far off from his original estimate of a year to 18 months for a vaccine.

“I was saying in January and February that it would be a year to 18 months, so January is a year,” he said. “So it isn't that much from what I had originally said.”