Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an interview Sunday that the COVID-19 vaccine would not make a significant dent on mortality from the respiratory illness “for at least several weeks, if not longer.”
Fauci insisted, however, that the vaccine would eventually make an impact on the number of deaths attributed to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“Likely you’re not going to see a measurable diminution for at least several weeks, if not longer,” Fauci said, adding, “But it will come, I’ll guarantee you.”
He explained the process of acquiring immunity from the virus would take some time as it involves the administration of a prime dose with one immunogen, followed by a secondary boost with a different immunogen.
“If we get the appropriate people vaccinated, we do it on time, and then we go to the next level, there’s no doubt the vaccine is going to be able to turn this thing around,” he said.
Two COVID-19 vaccines are pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, with the agency scheduled to review Pfizer’s emergency use application for its vaccine on Dec. 10 and Moderna’s candidate on Dec. 17.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Sunday that he is optimistic Pfizer’s vaccine could be authorized “within days.”
“If things are on track, the advisory committee goes well, I believe we could see FDA authorization within days,” Azar told ABC News. “But it’s going to go according to FDA gold-standard processes … and I’m going to make sure it does.”
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel recommended last week that essential health care workers should be the first to receive the vaccine, followed by nursing home residents.
Azar said that by February or March, the vaccine would be widely available.
“By the second quarter of next year, we’ll have enough vaccine for every American that wants it,” he said.
Last week, the UK approved Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use and is preparing to begin inoculating patients this week.
Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, told CNN’s “State of the Union” the vaccine manufacturing effort has been more complicated and difficult than expected.
“We probably are six or eight weeks later than an ideal scenario, where we had 100 million doses by the end of this year,” he said. “But we are not far.”
With the winter holiday season approaching, health experts have been pleading with Americans to not let up on their CCP virus safety protocols, including wearing masks, hand-washing, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.
Dr. Deborah Birx, who serves on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that while a vaccine is key to turning the pandemic around in the longer term, other mitigation measures are critical to tamping down the present surge.
“I want to be very frank to the American people. The vaccine is critical. But it’s not going to save us from the current surge,” she said. “Only we can save us from this current surge.”