(Reuters) – Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, spoke with Reuters correspondents Jeff Mason and Mike Erman on Wednesday about fighting the new surge in coronavirus cases and about how possible vaccines could slow the spread of the virus. Fauci also touched on his sometimes-fraught relationship with the White House.
Here are some the highlights from the interview:
“We are likely going to have maybe tens of millions of doses in the early part of (next) year. But as we get into 2021, the manufacturers tell us that they will have hundreds of millions and likely a billion doses by the end of 2021. So I think the process is moving along at a pretty favorable pace.”
“I’m cautiously optimistic, though you can never guarantee things with a vaccine. I’m cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine that’s effective enough to get approved, because the early studies in the Phase One study showed that it induced the kind of neutralizing antibodies that were at least comparable, if not better than what you see in convalescent serum. And that’s a whole mark of a predictive quality that a vaccine might work.”
OUTLOOK ON THE FUTURE
“I hope and feel it’s possible that by the time we get through 2021 and go around for another cycle, that we’ll have this under control… Do I think we’re going to have a much much better control one full year from this winter? I think so.”
“Historically, if you get a vaccine that has a moderate to high degree of efficacy, and you combine with that prudent public health measures, we can put this behind us. I don’t think we’re going to eradicate this from the planet … because it’s such a highly transmissible virus that that seems unlikely.
“But what I think we can do with a combination of a good vaccine and attention to public health measures – and by attention I don’t mean shutdown, I mean things that are just prudent – then I think we can get this behind us. We may need to go through a season of it, and then by the next season if we have a vaccine it won’t be a pandemic, it won’t be immobilizing the world, it won’t be destroying the economy.”
“I’ve discussed this with the regulatory authorities that they promised that they are not going to let political considerations interfere with a regulatory decision because we’ve spoken explicitly about that, because the subject obviously comes up, and the people in charge of the regulatory process assures that safety and efficacy is going to be the prime consideration.”
REOPENINGS AND SHUTDOWNS
“You don’t need to either shut down completely or let it rip, as I say. There is a middle ground where you can prudently open. So I think the misperception amongst some is that either you’re going to shut us down completely, or we’re going to do whatever we want. No, that was the reason for the (public health) guidelines of opening up the country. If you do it prudently, you don’t have to shut down.”
Video: Reuters interview with Anthony Fauci https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Glq3yQECfSY&feature=youtu.be
(Writing by Aurora Ellis; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)