Fauci: COVID-19 vaccine likely not available until next year

Washington Examiner/Pool

A potential COVID-19 vaccine will not likely be available until next year, Anthony Fauci said Wednesday. 

During a virtual Q&A with the editor in chief of the medical journal JAMA, Fauci said companies by December will likely have enough data for the independent safety monitoring board to recommend applying for emergency authorization, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may not grant that authorization until January at the earliest.

Fauci cautioned FDA’s vaccine committee is going to want to see “good enough safety data and even prolonged efficacy data.”

From that point in December, Fauci said FDA authorization could come in January or it could be later. 

The emergency use authorization could use preliminary data from clinical trials now underway to shave many months off the standard approval process and Fauci noted two companies have already completed enrollment.

The trials are “event based,” Fauci said. They will end when there’s a designated number of events — about 150 cases of symptomatic disease. 

But the independent monitoring board will tell investigators whether a vaccine looks like it’s working at 50 cases and again at 100 cases, and then advise the company on whether to move forward. 

Fauci said he has complete trust in the independent monitoring board, as well as the career scientists at FDA.

“Superimposed on all that, the data are going to be public,” Fauci said. “If I see a vaccine where clearly the efficacy looks good and the safety data are sound, which they will be, then I would without hesitation take that vaccine myself.”

Fauci also expressed frustration that more than seven months into the pandemic, there are people who still refuse to wear masks. 

There’s no doubt that wearing masks “makes a difference,” Fauci said, adding that people making masks into a political issue should stop.

“We have to shake each other by the collar, and say: ‘Look at the data! It speaks for itself,’ ” Fauci said. 

“Let’s put aside these extraordinary excuses for not doing it, when we’re dealing with a situation that’s not trivial,” he said. “We have 225,000 deaths, the modeling tells us we’re going to get one hundred or more thousand as we get into the winter, that is just something that’s unacceptable.”

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