Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said on Wednesday that he and his team are “cautiously optimistic” about developing a coronavirus vaccine and predict it could be approved in November or December.
“We predict that sometime 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 at a Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee hearing.
“Early studies in animals and in human Phase 1 and Phase 2 indicate that individuals induce a response that is comparable to, if not better, than natural infection,” he said. “Right now, doses of this vaccine are being produced so they’ll be ready to be distributed.”
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Fauci reiterated that he has no qualms about receiving an FDA-approved vaccine.
“If a vaccine that is shown to be, and proven to be and authorized by the FDA to be safe and effective, I certainly would take that vaccine, and I would recommend to my family that they take this vaccine,” Fauci said.
Fauci said having an approved coronavirus vaccine by Election Day was “unlikely,” although not “impossible,” in an interview with PBS NewsHour earlier in September.
President Trump has said a coronavirus vaccine could be available “during the month of October,” putting its arrival before Election Day.
“We are an absolute leader in every way,” Trump said on Sept. 7. “Under my leadership, we’ll produce a vaccine in record time.”
The CDC reportedly told state officials a vaccine could be distributable by October or November.
On Monday, Trump touted vaccine efforts by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and AstraZeneca (in partnership with the University of Oxford). He singled out Pfizer as doing “really well.”
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Meanwhile, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris has expressed doubts about the safety of a vaccine touted by Trump.
“I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about,” Harris told CNN earlier in September.
Fox News’ David Aaro and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.