WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told a Senate committee that he has "growing optimism" that scientists will find one or more safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine by late 2020 or early 2021, and that the United States could have enough doses for every American by April.
Fauci echoed a similar timeline to the one being espoused by President Trump, as he, along with CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield and FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, testified before the Senate Health Committee Wednesday about the Trump Administration's response to the coronavirus.
“In November, you’ll probably be maybe 50 million doses available, Fauci said. "By December maybe another 100-plus million. And then you get into January and February. By the time you get to April, it’ll be a total of about 700 million. They will be rolling in as the months go by and by the time you get to maybe the third or fourth month of 2021, then you’ll have doses for everyone.”
However, Dr. Fauci warned that Americans will likely need to wear masks and maintain socially distance to protect themselves from the coronavirus after a vaccine becomes available, telling Senators that a vaccine will not change COVID-19 conditions overnight.
“The vaccine availability will go a giant step to controlling the infection, but you’re not going to completely eradicate it or eliminate it,” Fauci says.
Fauci touted the vaccines in late-stage testing, from Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna, as well as the candidate from Johnson & Johnson, which entered the final testing stage Wednesday. He also mentioned that the vaccine candidate from Novovax will enter late-stage testing in October.
"As these trials go on, we predict that some time by the end of this year, let's say November or December, we will know whether or not these are safe and effective," Fauci said.
"Right now doses of this vaccine are being produced so that they'll be ready to be distributed," he added.
Fauci also had a testy exchange with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who claimed that New York achieved herd immunity from the pandemic, saying that the senator from Kentucky is "not listening."
"If you believe that 22% is herd immunity, I believe you're alone in that," Fauci said, challening Paul's claim.
According to the World Health Organization, 60-80% of the population would need to be vaccinated or have natural antibodies to achieve herd immunity.
Redfield warned that about 90% of Americans are still susceptible to the coronavirus, according to preliminary tests by the CDC.
“The preliminary results in the first round show that a majority of our nation, more than 90% of the population, remains susceptible,” Redfield said. “A majority of Americans are still susceptible.”
Hahn pledged that career scientists, not politicians, will decide whether any coronavirus vaccine meets clearly stated standards that it works and is safe.
"It will be a public process – the vote, the discussion and the recommendations will be public, and we will incorporate those and then make our decision," Hahn said, saying that he and the agency "feel the urgency of the moment."
'We will not delay, but we will not cut corners in our process," Hahn added."
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker.