Coronavirus vaccine might be available this year, but don't 'bank on it,' Johns Hopkins expert says

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A Johns Hopkins University health expert on Sunday said a vaccine for the novel coronavirus may arrive by the end of year, but don’t “bank on it.”

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, made the comments during an appearance on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Inglesby said a year to year-and-a-half timeline for a vaccine normally would be unrealistic, but the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the pandemic have made that scenario a possibility.

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, gave his thoughts about the timeline for a coronavirus vaccine. (Getty Images, File)

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“We should hold out some level of hope that if everything goes in the right direction, we could possibly be seeing a vaccine by the end of the year,” Inglesby told host Chuck Todd.

“Given that there are now 110 vaccine projects going on around the world that all the major vaccine companies in the world are working on this in some way, and given that Tony Fauci and Moncef Slaoui are now leading figures in the U.S. in this project and they both believe it’s possible, I think it is possible,” Inglesby said. “But, everything would have to break in the right way, and there are many ways that it might not work. So, I don’t think we should bank on it.” Fauci is a member of the White House coronavirus task force; President Trump chose Slaoui to lead the push to shorten the time needed to produce such a vaccine.

Inglesby said lockdowns have been instrumental in curbing the spread of the virus.

“We have the largest epidemic in the world, five times as many cases as any other country in the world. And, you can see over time that the curve is moving in the right direction and it is now appropriate for states to be thinking about how to very carefully reopen and do it as safely as possible.”

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Inglesby’s comments come as leaders in the U.S. and Europe weighed the risks of lifting coronavirus restrictions without a vaccine on the market.

Health experts have said the world could be months, if not years, away from having a vaccine available to everyone, and they warned that easing restrictions too early could lead the virus to rebound.

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By contrast, President Trump on Sunday promised Americans a speedy return to normalcy that sounded far more optimistic.

“We’re looking at vaccines, we’re looking at cures and we are very, very far down the line,” he said while calling into a charity golf tournament broadcast Sunday on NBC. “I think that’s not going to be in the very distant future. But, even before that, I think we’ll be back to normal.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.