Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that he is hopeful that a safe and effective vaccine for the novel coronavirus will be identified by this winter, MarketWatch reports. However, identifying it is just one step in a series of steps that must be completed before the vaccine starts being injected into patients.
Speaking during a discussion sponsored by the Economic Club of Washington, Fauci, who has become the public face of the federal government's battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, told his listeners that by winter, at the very least, the identification stage of the vaccine's development may have been completed.
"Hopefully by the time we get to this coming winter, we will know whether or not we have a safe and effective vaccine."He cautioned, however, that having produced a vaccine and deeming it safe and effective is one thing. Getting it injected into people on a mass scale is another one indeed. And it's one that will require manufacturers to ramp up production, not just for wealthier countries like the United States, but for all people, even in poorer countries.
How much time could pass between the identification of the vaccine as safe and effective and the first injection into patients remains unclear, as of this writing.
However, early on in the pandemic, Dr. Fauci suggested that a time frame of 12-18 months to get a vaccine up and running, which would mean that a vaccine might not be available for widespread use until February or March of 2021 at the earliest. Even so, many experts predicted that Fauci's time frame for the vaccine was unrealistically ambitious, considering that normally developing vaccines is a process that takes years, not months.
Fauci is still committed to that time frame.
"Hopefully we can move along rather rapidly to get an answer 'are they are safe and effective?,'" he said.
The remarks come following news that a team of researchers at Oxford University has produced a vaccine that has proved safe and effective in monkeys. It bears noting that animal trials and human trials are just two steps on the same continuum; however, so there's no indication of when, or even if, the Oxford team's vaccine will be tried on human test subjects.
Meanwhile, Fauci is confident that, unless and until a vaccine is developed, mass-produced, and deployed on a widespread basis, COVID-19 is here to stay, and it will make seasonal reappearances.
"It is not going to disappear from the planet. Which means as we get into next season, in my mind, its inevitable that we will have a return of the virus," Fauci said.