A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, and another by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, are likely “weeks away” from being presented to U.S. regulators for approval, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday.
“We’re weeks away, not months away, for sure,” said Fauci, speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
“I would imagine within a period of a week or so, or at the most a couple of weeks, they’re going to be getting their data together and showing it to the [Food and Drug Administration],” said the government’s top infectious diseases expert.
“They’re going to have to get their data and safety monitoring board to look at it to see if it is appropriate to start, you know, essentially putting the package together to get an emergency use authorization,” he added.
Operation Warp Speed’s chief scientific adviser Moncef Slaoui previously estimated that AstraZeneca’s vaccine would not be authorized for emergency use in the United States until April 2021, although he said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would likely receive approval by mid February.
The United States has so far purchased 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
Currently, vaccines developed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech, and Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, are being rolled out across the country following Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Trump administration officials had said they projected 20 million people would get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of 2020. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 31.1 million doses have been distributed as of Jan. 15 but just 12.2 million have been administered.
Fauci said Sunday that President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge of delivering 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses within the first 100 days of his presidency “is absolutely a doable thing.”
“What the president-elect is going to do is, where need be, to invoke the [Defense Production Act] to get the kinds of things they need, whatever they may be, be they tests, be they vaccines or what have you,” he said.
“In other words, to just not be hesitant to use whatever mechanisms we can to get everything on track and on the flow that we predict. But the feasibility of his goal is absolutely clear. There’s no doubt about it. That can be done.”
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is based on an adenoviral vector that requires only refrigeration and is therefore easier to store than Pfizer and Moderna’s messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, which need to be stored and distributed at cold temperatures to prevent them from degrading.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate also uses an adenoviral vector. Many low- and middle-income countries are relying on this approach.