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Coronavirus vaccine tracker, August 16: Anthony Fauci says ‘half an effective’ shot can control pandemic

Fauci, also a Coronavirus advisor to US President Donald Trump, said if a vaccine became available early next year, as expected, then the pandemic could be brought under “good enough control” by the end of the next year.

By: Explained Desk | Pune |
August 16, 2020 8:05:21 am
A new vaccine is on display at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia. (AP)

Anthony Fauci, a top infectious diseases expert in the United States and one of the most trusted voices on the current pandemic, has said that it was unlikely that a vaccine for novel Coronavirus would be 100 per cent effective, but even half an effective vaccine would be good enough to bring back normalcy within a year.

Fauci, also a Coronavirus advisor to US President Donald Trump, said if a vaccine became available early next year, as expected, then the pandemic could be brought under “good enough control” by the end of the next year.

“If you get a vaccine into 2021, throughout the year, I believe, by the year 2021, the end of the year, we will be as good back to normal as we possibly can. That doesn’t mean – so, I want to be clear – that you are going to eradicate this virus. The only virus that we have ever eradicated in the history of the planet has been smallpox for humans. But we can get it under good enough control that it is so low that it doesn’t interfere with the kind of normal life that we want, to get the economy back, to get employment back,” Fauci said in the PBS Newshour programme, according to a transcript on the PBS website.

“I don’t think it is going to be 2024. I think it is going to be more like the end of 2021,” he said when asked whether the pandemic could continue till 2024 as has been suggested by some. “Of course, if we do not handle it properly, if there is not a safe and effective vaccine, this could go on for a few years,” Fauci said.

Coronavirus vaccine update: Russia will test Sputnik-V on 40,000 people; J&J announces largest human trials

In remarks made earlier, Fauci had acknowledged that the chances of the novel Coronavirus vaccine being even 90 per cent effective were slip, but that even a 50 to 60 per cent vaccine would be ‘acceptable’. “The chances of it being 98 per cent effective is not great, which means you must never abandon the public health approach… You have got to think of the vaccine as a tool to be able to get the pandemic to no longer be a pandemic, but to be something that is well controlled,” Fauci was quoted by CNBC as saying last week.

A 50 per cent effectiveness would mean that the vaccine would offer only a 50 per cent chance of protecting an individual against the infection. Alternatively, it also means that only 50 per cent of the people who are administered the vaccine can be expected to get the protection against the disease.

READ | Explained: Why the Russian vaccine is a long way from being available in India, if at all

Fauci doesn’t weigh ‘Whole National Interest,’ virus task force member says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to testify before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus crisis hearing (AP)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the drug regulator in the United States, had earlier said it was hoping to approve a vaccine should be able to demonstrate at least 70 per cent effectiveness to get approval for public use. But later it agreed to approve vaccines that were at least 50 per cent effective.

Russian vaccine’s safety, effectiveness doubtful: Anthony Fauci

Anthony Fauci, who has made no secret of his scepticism for the Russian vaccine for novel Coronavirus, once again said that he “seriously doubted” that vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, according to a report in the New York Times.

“Having a vaccine… and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things… So if we wated to take the chance of hurting a lot of people or giving them something that doesn’t work, we could start doing this, you know, next week if we wanted to,” Fauci was quoted as saying at a panel discussion on Friday.

“But that’s not the way this works,” he said.

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He has expressed this skepticism many times in the past as well. “I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccines before they are administering the vaccine to anyone. Because claims of having a vaccine ready to distribute before you do testing is problematic at the very least,” he had said during a testimony to a panel of US lawmakers earlier this month, when Russia had announced that it would approve its vaccine by the second week of August, which it eventually did. China has also approved one of its vaccine for use on its soldiers without it undergoing phase-3 trials.

Hunt for coronavirus vaccine: The story so far

  • More than 160 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical or clinical trials
  • 29 of them in clinical trials
  • Six in final stages, phase-III of human trials
  • At least eight candidate vaccines being developed in India. Two of these have entered phase -II trials after completing phase-I.

(As on August 13; source: WHO Coronavirus vaccine landscape of August 13, 2020)

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