The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on Tuesday while appearing before a congressional committee that he expects a vaccine to become available for the novel coronavirus, but warned that it could take some time. He said that one wouldn’t likely be available until the end of the year at best.
As a video of the hearing published by the Washington Post shows, Fauci said that a vaccine is on track to be ready for distribution by the end of 2020 or early 2021 and that the inoculation will be “essential” in battling the spread of COVID-19.
But while he told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that he is “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine will be made available by that time, he warned that there isn’t an imminent breakthrough that could bring relief sooner as the virus continues to spread across the country.
“The rigorous clinical testing required to establish vaccine safety and efficacy means that it might take some time for a licensed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be available to the general public,” Fauci said.
“The COVID-19 response currently is focused on the proven public health practices of containment and mitigation.”
Once a vaccine is made available, Fauci predicted that the disease would rapidly become less of a concern.
“If you look at the history of viral diseases, it is generally vaccines that put the nail in the coffin of these types,” he said.
So far in the U.S. alone, the novel coronavirus has caused at least 2.3 million confirmed cases of the disease, with more than 120,000 people dead. Many states, such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases in recent days. Some states, such as Oregon, have begun to slow the process of re-opening in order to tackle a surge in cases.
Fauci said that one vaccine, in particular, showed promise and would move into phase three trials in July. Other vaccines are slated to move into phase three trials in the near future, as well. During phase three, thousands of people will be given the vaccination as a way to test if it is both safe and effective.
Many experts say that an effective vaccine is the best chance society has to shift back to a normal way of life, with the removal of social distancing and other safety guidelines.
During the hearing, Fauci also pushed back on President Donald Trump’s statement that he had requested testing for the virus to be slowed down, saying that, if anything, it was ramping up.