Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Chris Kleponis | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The first human trial testing a potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is “on track” with public distribution still projected in 12 to 18 months, which would be the “ultimate game changer” in the fight against the pandemic, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.
U.S. health officials have been fast-tracking work with biotech company Moderna to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. They began their first human trials on a potential vaccine March 16.
The trial had to test three different doses of the vaccine, Fauci said, adding that they’ve already tested the first two doses and are now administering the highest dose to human volunteers to see if there are any adverse reactions to it.
“It’ll take a few months to get the data to where we’ll feel confident to go to the phase two, and then a few months from now we’ll be in phase two and I think we’re right on target for the year to year and a half,” Fauci said at a White House press conference with President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force.
Fauci said world health leaders dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 932,000 people globally, have all agreed that COVID-19 may cycle back in future seasons, and the only protection would be the development of a vaccine.
“The ultimate solution to a virus that might be coming back would be a vaccine,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. “The same way a vaccine for other diseases that were scourges in the past that now we don’t even worry about.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus task force coordinator, said she’s been asking universities and private companies to develop rapid coronavirus tests to confirm whether health-care workers that have been treating coronavirus patients already have the antibodies to fight it.
She said the U.S. owes it to health-care workers — many of whom have been treating coronavirus patients for a month now — “the peace of mind that would come from knowing that you already were infected, you have the antibody, you’re safe from reinfection 99.9% of the time.” She said U.S. universities can get those tests out by Friday.
However, Fauci said that it’s not their priority right now. The main focus is to develop widespread testing for somebody who is infected so they can conduct better case finding and isolation.
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