Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a top infectious disease expert.
Speaking about the vaccine in a discussion with the Brown University School of Public Health, Fauci said Friday, “The chances of it being 98 percent effective is not great, which means you must never abandon the public health approach.”
Vaccine effectiveness refers to the percentage of people given vaccines who are actually protected from infection.
As of now, it’s unclear whether CCP virus vaccines will even protect one out of every two people that get them, according to Fauci.
“We don’t know yet what the efficacy might be,” he said, but added, “I believe we’ll get an effective vaccine.”
The virus causes a disease called COVID-19 that kills a small percentage of patients but causes few or no symptoms in many others.
Efforts to combat diseases include control, elimination, and eradication.
“We’ve only eradicated one human infection in the history of the planet. And that’s smallpox. But what we’ve done very successfully, is that we’ve eliminated polio from the United States and a lot of other countries, we’ve eliminated malaria. And then we’ve controlled other diseases to a really good level,” Fauci said.
“So what I’m shooting for is with a vaccine, and good public health measures, we could bring it down to somewhere between really good control and elimination. That’s what the vaccine’s gonna do, but it’s not going to do it alone.”
Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, last month said his agency would greenlight a vaccine as long as it’s safe and at least 50 percent effective.
“We all want a vaccine that’s 100 percent effective,” but that’s just not realistic, Hahn said in a discussion with Dr. Howard Bauchner, editor in chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“We said 50 percent. And the reason was because we felt that that was a reasonable floor, given the pandemic. But also, it really gave to the manufacturers and developers, the number of people that they needed to enroll, the subjects they needed to enroll, into the trials, to actually detect that in a statistically significant way,” Hahn explained.
“That’s been batted around among medical groups, but for the most part I think the infectious disease experts have agreed that’s a reasonable floor, of course hoping that the actual effectiveness will be higher,” he added later.
No matter how effective the vaccines are, approval won’t come if they’re not safe, according to officials.
Under President Donald Trump, the federal government has committed billions of dollars to the companies working on vaccines, including Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Noxavax.
The latest announcement came on August 5, when the Department of Health and Human Services announced it was spending approximately $1 billion to support large-scale manufacturing and delivery of the Johnson & Johnson’s investigational vaccine candidate.
The deal gives the U.S. government 100 million doses, with the option to acquire more.
Operation Warp Speed, a federal effort, is aimed at delivering 300 million vaccine doses to Americans by January 2021.
“The speed and the progress is incredible. This virus was described in the middle of January. Six-and-a-half months later, we have started two phase 3 trials for vaccines. Normally, it takes at least five years to do this,” Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Trump’s vaccine czar, said on a podcast on July 31.
“And what’s extraordinary is that we haven’t cut any one of the key scientific corners, I would say, whether from an efficacy standpoint or from a safety standpoint.”
The elderly population and others with comorbidity, or underlying health conditions, will get vaccines first, according to the doctor.