National Public Radio interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on his optimism on a COVID-19 vaccine by early 2021
Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD
Below I am giving a link to an important interview by NPR’s Judy Woodruff with Dr. Anthony Fauci on his thoughts regarding the recent spikes in cases, the potential for a COVID-19 vaccine by next year, and promising therapeutics in the pipeline. The interview link is given below however I will summarize a few of the highlights of the interview.
Some notes on the interview
Judy Woodruff began her report with some up to date news regarding the recent spike and that Miami Florida has just ordered the additional use of facemasks. She asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD), about if the measures currently in use are enough to bring this spike down. Dr. Fauci said that we need to reboot our efforts, mainly because people are not doing three things which could have prevented this spike mainly
It hasn’t been a uniform personal effort
Dr. Fauci on testing
We have to use the tests we have out there efficiently and effectively And we have to get them out to the right people who can do the proper identification, isolation, and do proper contract tracing and need to test more widely in a surveillance way to get a feel of the extent and penetrance of this community spread. there needs to be support and money for these testing labs
We have a problem and we need to admit and own it but we need to do the things we know are effective to turn this thing around.
“May be later this year”
His response to Merck’s CEO Ken Frazer who said officials are giving false hop if they say ‘end of year’ but Dr. Fauci disagrees. He says a year end goal is not outlandish.
What we have been doing is putting certain things in line with each other in an unprecedented way.
Dr. Fauci went on to say that, in the past yes, it took a long time, even years to develop a vaccine but now they have been able to go from sequence of virus to a vaccine development program in days, which is unheard of. Sixty two days later we have gone into phase 1 trials. the speed at which this is occurring is so much faster. He says that generally it would take a couple of years to get a neutralizing antibody but we are already there. Another candidate will be undergoing phase 3 trials by end of this month (July 2020).
He is “cautiously optimistic” that we will have one or more vaccines to give to patients by end of year because given the amount of cases it will be able to get a handle on safety and efficacy by late fall.
Now he says the game changer is that the government is working with companies to ramp up the production of doses of the candidate vaccines so when we find which one works we will have ample doses on hand. He is worried about the anti vaccine movement derailing vaccine testing and vaccinations but says if we keep on informing the public we can combat this.
Going back to school
Dr. Fauci is concerned for the safety of the vulnerable in schools, including students and staff. He wants the US to get down to a reasonable baseline of cases but in the US that baseline after the first wave was still significantly higher than in most countries, where the baseline was more like tens of cases not hundreds of cases.
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