LONDON (NCC News) – White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke at a webinar at the Chatham House on Thursday. Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, said a vaccine to bring an end to the pandemic appears to be nearly ready for distribution. He also cautioned the vaccine may not be enough to help eliminate the disease entirely.
“Help is really on the way if you think of it metaphorically, the cavalry is coming here, vaccines are going to have a major positive impact,” Fauci said. “We can turn it around, I think that’s the message we’ve got to get to the American people, we can turn this around.”
Fauci’s comments came three days after Pfizer and BioNTech said that early results showed their vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid infections.
The vaccine efficiency was substantially better than scientists had been hoping for initially. Fauci had previously said a vaccine that is 50% or 60% effective would be acceptable.
Fauci said there are multiple agencies responsible for determining how a potential vaccine will get distributed and who will get priority to it.
“The CDC has final determination about the prioritization, they get input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,” Fauci said. “They’ve done this for decades over vaccines in which you have a short supply, or you’re grading the number that you go in because you can’t get everybody a vaccine at once, and then you also have the National Academy of Medicine which also weighs in.”
Fauci said the first people to receive the vaccine will be based on need and vulnerability to the virus.
“Obviously the first ones who are going to get it are health care providers who put themselves at risk, and then there are those who are highly vulnerable,” Fauci said.
Fauci is not sure exactly when the vaccine will be readily available for the average citizen. He said he anticipates it being ready in approximately 4-5 months.
“Over the months, from when it will start in December, then you get to January, February, March April,” Fauci said. “We hope that by the time you get into the 2nd quarter, end of April, early May, June, somewhere around that time, the ordinary citizen should be able to get it.”
In the U.S., newly confirmed infections are at all-time highs of over 100,000 cases per day, with more than 1 million new cases reported nationwide in just the first 12 days of November.
To date, the U.S. has recorded more than 10.5 million cases of the coronavirus and over 242,000 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.