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Fauci says he 'would not hesitate for a moment' to take coronavirus vaccine

Fauci says he 'would not hesitate for a moment' to take coronavirus vaccine
© Bloomberg/Pool

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight health care: AstraZeneca says its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is up to 90 percent effective It's time for COVID-19 disaster relief ... for mothers Fauci: US could see 'well over 300,000' COVID-19 deaths MORE, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, said he would feel comfortable taking a coronavirus vaccine if one is approved by the government. 

“I mean I will look at the data and I would assume and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the case that a vaccine would not be approved for the American public unless it was indeed both safe and effective. And I keep emphasizing both safe and effective. If that’s the case, Jim, I would not hesitate for a moment to take the vaccine myself and recommend it for my family,” he told CNN anchor Jim Sciutto on Thursday. 

Fauci, a high-profile member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, said a possible vaccine for the coronavirus could be approved as soon as November or December, but said it is “unlikely, not impossible” that one could come out in October.

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The remarks come as the government ramps up its efforts to craft a coronavirus vaccine as the pandemic continues to rage across the country. There have been more than 6.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and more than 186,000 deaths, both figures that lead every other country in the world.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked state governors last week to speed applications for building permits for vaccine distribution sites that would be up and running in early November. 

“The normal time required to obtain these permits presents a significant barrier to the success of this urgent public health program,” CDC Director Robert Redfield wrote to state governors and health departments. “CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020.”

The Trump administration has made releasing a vaccine a top priority, particularly as three vaccine makers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — conduct phase three clinical trials, the last step before receiving approval from regulators.

However, Democrats and other skeptics of the administration are accusing the White House of rushing to put out a vaccine before Election Day to boost President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE’s reelection prospects. 

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“Too much of the evidence points to the Trump administration pressuring the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] to approve a vaccine by Election Day to boost the President’s re-election campaign,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement, referencing a report from The Washington Post addressing the concerns. “All Americans want a safe and effective vaccine as soon as possible, but if these important life and death decisions appear political, it will only undermine Americans’ confidence in a vaccine and prolong the pandemic.”

Fauci dismissed concerns that the FDA was being pressured to roll out a vaccine too quickly, saying trials are being independently conducted and the agency has been clear it will make its determinations solely based on available data.

“I mean the FDA has been very explicit that they are going to make a decision based on the data as it comes in. These trials have these independent data and safety monitoring boards that intermittently look at the data,” he said. “So I think that we can have some confidence and have faith in what the FDA is saying. They’re saying very explicitly that they’re going to be making the decision based on the scientific data. And we hope that that’s going to be the case.”