Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he expects a COVID-19 vaccine to be fully tested and proven safe and effective well before the end of 2020.
“I would still put my money on November, December,” Fauci said at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute panel, CNN reported.
Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who serves on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said testing a vaccine requires about 150 subjects to actually get the virus.
“Right now, the trials are over two thirds enrolled – really close to full enrollment on one, and over full enrollment on the other,” he said. “It really depends on where the sites are and how many infections there are in a site. So you could get your answer sooner, or you can get your answer a bit later.”
“Fauci said his projection of November or December is informed by calculations based on where the clinical trial sites are in their studies,” CNN reported.
Under new plans released Wednesday by the Department of Defense and federal health agencies, all Americans will be able to get a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, for free once one is developed and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The agencies are eyeing January as a target date to begin a vaccination campaign, although that date may shift, according to a report to Congress and a “playbook” for states and local governments, The Associated Press reported.
“We are working closely with our state and local public health partners … to ensure that Americans can receive the vaccine as soon as possible and vaccinate with confidence,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
According to the playbook drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccination campaign will be “much larger in scope and complexity than seasonal influenza or other previous outbreak-related vaccination responses.”
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said this week that most Americans won’t have access to a COVID-19 vaccine until late spring or even summer of 2021, President Donald Trump said he was wrong.
“That’s incorrect information,” Trump said of Redfield’s assertion. “When he said it, I believe he was confused.”
Trump also said the U.S. government could begin distributing a vaccine as early as October.
“We’re very close to that vaccine as you know and I think much closer than I think most people want to say,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. “We think we can start some time in October. So as soon as it’s announced we’ll be able to start. That will be from mid-October on. It may be a little bit later than that.”