Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Wednesday that drugmakers will likely have tens of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses ready by early next year and at least 1 billion by the end of 2021.
Fauci told Reuters there would be no pressure in the U.S. to unsafely speed up the approval of a vaccine for political expediency, despite the November election.
“I’m certain of what the White House would like to see, but I haven’t seen any indication of pressure at this point to do anything different than what we’re doing,” he said.
President Trump said this week a vaccine could potentially be available this fall.
“We’re balancing speed and safety and we’re on pace to have a vaccine available this year, maybe far in advance of the end of the year,” Trump said during a White House news briefing. “And we’re mass-producing the most promising candidates in advance so that we’re ready upon approval. We have our military lined up, it’s logistics, it’s all about logistics.”
More than 150 potential coronavirus vaccines are being developed around the world and at least 27 are in human trials, according to The New York Times.
Fauci agreed with Trump's assessment that the virus is “under control” -- but only in certain parts of the U.S.
“We’re a big country," he said. "You can pick out some parts of the country that are looking good and you could say is under control; you could pick some parts of the country that are on fire, in the sense, I mean you’re having outbreaks that you know you don’t get 70,000 cases a day when nothing’s going on."
He lamented that younger Americans sometimes don't treat the virus with the same level of seriousness they should. "Young people could get infected and think that, in fact, it doesn't have any impact on them when, in fact, they are part of the propagation of the outbreak," Fauci said.
He also stressed that turning mask-wearing into a political issue wouldn't help control the outbreak but said it was a “step in the right direction” to see Trump and Vice President Pence encouraging people to wear them.
“I’m very pleased now that we’re seeing the vice president consistently wearing a mask, the president tweeting that you should be wearing masks,” he told Reuters. “That’s a good thing.”