Dr. Anthony Fauci says the idea of having a coronavirus vaccine ready to roll out by the end of the year is an “aspirational” goal, noting that there are a number of variables that will go into whether a hypothetical vaccine would be a success.
Speaking to The Hill, the White House coronavirus task force member and nation’s top expert on infectious diseases said there have been significant efforts already to develop a vaccine for the highly contagious virus. Fauci said the government has already moved forward on production of what appears to be a promising vaccine candidate, though he admitted that this was risky in that it could end up a wasted investment if the vaccine doesn’t pan out.
He noted that the risk came with the potential of a big reward — which would be several months shaved off the process of getting the vaccine approved and ready for widespread distribution. But Fauci did caution that vaccines fail more often than they succeed.
“Even if you do everything right and you do everything on time, there’s no guarantee you’re going to have an effective vaccine,” he said. “So when we talk about having a vaccine that might be available in December or January, that’s assuming that the vaccine is actually effective.”
If the vaccine did work and there was the opportunity for rapid production in the summer, Fauci said there could be 100 million doses ready before the end of 2020. This has the support of President Donald Trump, who called the plans to prepare a vaccine “Operation Warp Speed,” but Fauci cautioned that it might not work out as they have hoped.
“I mean that’s aspirational,” he said. “The companies think that they can do that with the right financial backing.”
The extensive interview came after reports noted that Fauci had been making fewer television appearances and that his interview schedule had been slashed. As CNN Business reported, Fauci had gone more than two weeks without making a visit, from early May until this week. The report noted that Fauci was present when Trump announced “Operation Warp Speed” this week, appearing behind Trump and wearing a face mask but not making any public comments at the event.
Trump’s communication strategy has shifted in recent weeks, dialing back on the once-daily coronavirus press briefings that were heavy on updates about the number of infections and steps taken to help states better handle medical shortages. Recent briefings have focused more heavily on the economy, with Trump making visits to facilities across the country making supplies needed in the fight against coronavirus.