The U.S. may begin offering the vaccine to priority groups at the end of December, Fauci said. It’s hoped to blunt spiking infections that reached a record 190,000 new daily cases this week. The Trump administration has both purchased and funded development of doses from Pfizer
and other drugmakers with a goal of making enough supplies for most Americans by year-end.
The name of the administration’s effort, Operation Warp Speed, may have created an impression that corners are being cut to create a vaccine, undermining public confidence, researchers including Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, have said.
Just over half of U.S. adults said in September they would definitely or probably take a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 if it were available, down from 72 per cent in May, a national survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed. A survey in June of people in 19 countries published last month in the journal Science found 71.5 per cent of participants would probably take a Covid-19 vaccine, with acceptance ranging from almost 90 per cent in China to less than 55 per cent in Russia.
Results of a late-stage trial of a vaccine candidate from Moderna Inc. that uses the same messenger RNA technology as the Pfizer
shot are likely to be available within a week, Fauci said. “And if that is really comparable to what we saw with the Pfizer trial, we’ll now have two highly effective vaccines,” he said.
“We’ve got to convince people to take the vaccine, because if you have a highly effective vaccine and only 50 per cent of the people take it, you’re not going to have the impact that you’d need to essentially bring a pandemic down to such a low level that it’s no longer threatening society,” Fauci said. “And that’s the goal of a vaccine.”
The vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech SE and Moderna are given in a two-shot regimen. The duration of their protection, or that of any Covid-19 vaccine, isn’t yet known, Fauci said. Coronaviruses generally don’t generate an immune response with decades-long durability, and people are infected with one or more of the four coronaviruses that cause the common cold year after year, he said.
If the vaccine’s effect has “one to two years of durability, to me that’s fine, because we just go back and boost people and get the immunity up,” Fauci said.
More than 20 Covid vaccines have entered the final stage of patient studies that new pharmaceutical products are usually required to undergo for regulatory approval. Even though the late-stage trials may take only a few months, participants and others
who receive experimental vaccines will be followed for as long as two years as part of safety monitoring and surveillance, Fauci said.
“You always want to be very careful when it comes to safety when you’re dealing with vaccines that you’re going to be giving to hundreds of millions, if not billions of people,” he said. “And that is something that is on everybody’s front burner. Safety is paramount.”
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