Dr Anthony Fauci Cautiously Optimistic Whether Effective Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine will Be Developed

JAMA Network: NIAID Director Anthony Fauci discusses recent developments in the global COVID-19 pandemic with JAMA Editor Howard Bauchner. Recorded on June 2, 2020.

U.S. officials and scientists are hopeful a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infections will be ready in the first half of 2021, but many experts, including White House health advisor Anthony Fauci are not certain there will be an effective vaccine for Coronavirus COVID-19.

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday, June 2, 2020 that he worries about the “durability” of a potential coronavirus vaccine because it may not provide long-term immunity.

Coronaviruses also cause one form of the common cold for which there is no vaccine. If COVID-19 acts like other coronaviruses, “it likely isn’t going to be a long duration of immunity,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases during an interview Tuesday evening with JAMA Editor Howard Bauchner.

“When you look at the history of coronaviruses, the common coronaviruses that cause the common cold, the reports in the literature are that the durability of immunity that’s protective ranges from three to six months to almost always less than a year. That’s not a lot of durability and protection.”

— Dr. Anthony Fauci

When Bauchner asked Fauci whether scientists will be able to develop an effective vaccine, Fauci said he’s “cautiously optimistic,” but said “there’s never a guarantee … it could take months and months and months to get an answer” before scientists discover whether a Coronavirus vaccine works.

The goal of a COVID-19 vaccine in less than two years would be quite an accomplishment. The mumps vaccine, licensed in 1967, took more than four years to develop with the fastest track of any vaccine to date.

The National Institutes of Health has been fast-tracking work with biotech firm Moderna on a potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19, which has infected more than 6.28 million people worldwide and killed at least 375,987 as of early June 2020, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and said in congressional testimony in May 2020 that he is hopeful scientists will find a successful vaccine, but warned of potential pitfalls in developing any vaccine.

Efficacy Signal

Efficacy defines whether a drug demonstrates a health benefit over a placebo or other intervention when tested in an ideal situation, such as a clinical trial.

“You can have everything you think that’s in place and you don’t induce the kind of immune response that turns out to be protective and durably protective,” Fauci explained. “So one of the big unknowns is, will it be effective? Given the way the body responds to viruses of this type, I’m cautiously optimistic that we will with one of the candidates get an efficacy signal.”

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